There’s the Flint, Michigan water fiasco that no one will ever forget. Then the three world’s largest bottling brands have admitted that their bottled water is filtered tap water. So how do you know if your water is safe? Is bottled or tap water better? What chemicals in your water should you be worried about? And what steps can you do to help prevent yourself? Read on for the information you need to keep you and your family safe.
We take cheap, safe drinking water for granted. We drink millions of bottles of water. Bottles of water that are actually highly filtered tap water. Bottles of water that cost thousands of times more than tap water. We pollute our oceans and landfills with the 70% of bottles that don’t get recycled. And we drink this “safe” water which is physically impossible to be pure. And we don’t think twice about it. Or the consequences.
According to James Salzman, author of Drinking Water: A History, “there is no such thing as pure water in nature.” Water takes on the characteristics of its surroundings. “Across America, people are opening about 1,500 bottles of water every second.” The top three brands – Aquafina, Dasani, and Pure Life – are all “highly filtered municipal tap water.”
Did you know that a $1.50 bottle of water would buy 1,000 gallons of tap water in most cities? To put it into perspective, the average American uses 100 gallons of water per day in their home. That $1.50 bottle is equivalent to the amount of water a family of four or five would use in two days.
Who Controls What?
According to Salzman, “bottled and tap water are equal with regard to safety – except that bottled water is less stringently regulated.”
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates tap water under the Safe Drinking Water Act (passed in 1974). Most municipalities test their water daily (and some more often than that). The EPA requires the public to be notified immediately if there is a contaminant posing a threat to human health. Ninety-one pollutants are regulated by this Act, yet more than 60,000 chemicals are used.
Bottled water is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. Manufacturers are not required to disclose to the public if contaminants are found.
The Chemicals Between Us
Let’s look at bottled water first. Laboratory testing conducted by Environmental Working Group found popular bottled water brands to contain mixtures of 38 different pollutants, including bacteria, fertilizer, Tylenol and industrial chemicals, some at levels no better than tap water. Some even contain high levels of cancer-causing chlorination byproducts.
More than 24,000 chemicals, including hormone and endocrine-disrupting ones and ones that act like pharmaceuticals in the body, were detected in a single bottle of water. Estrogenicity in water from plastic bottles is three times higher compared to glass.
According to testing conducted by the Environmental Working Group, 250 chemicals were detected in American drinking water overall (160 of which are not regulated by the federal government). Even more worrying, 81 percent of systems tested had contaminants that have been linked to cancer. Some of the most notable offenders include Chloroform and Chromium-6, though more research still needs to be done on exactly how much of these we need to ingest to be at risk.
Contaminants found in water can be linked to diseases such as cancer, autoimmune-inflammation diseases, diabetes, thyroid problems, brain diseases, and liver, kidney, and nervous system problems.
In one study, 94% of the water samples in the United States contained plastic fibers. This even included the Environmental Protection Agency’s headquarters in Washington, DC. I used to work in an old federal agency building in DC. Trust me when I say I can validate the nastiness of this water just by sight. The water coming out of the faucets or drinking fountains is discolored and has floaters. If this is what you can see, I don’t even want to know what’s in the water that you can’t see!
So you know the fluoride in our water that you think is safe and your dentist says help to prevent cavities? It’s actually an industrial toxic waste called hydrofluorosilicic Acid. This has been a government-approved addition to our drinking water for over 60 years. It’s important to realize that fluoride is a cumulative toxin, which over time, can lead to more serious health concerns and can severely impact those who have autoimmune conditions.
Atrazine is the most common water contaminant in the United States, and the second most commonly used herbicide next to glyphosate. It’s known to cause hermaphroditism in frogs by inducing an enzyme called aromatase, which causes overproduction of estrogen. For this reason, atrazine is also suspected of contributing to breast cancer.
Waste Not Want Not
Americans use nearly three million plastic water bottles every hour, every day. Americans throw away about 60 million water bottles a day. That’s around 22 billion a year. Less than 25% are recycled. It takes 3 liters or more of water to produce 1 liter of bottled water, and the vast majority of this water is contained in petroleum-based plastic. The Pacific Institute estimates that about 17 million barrels of oil are used to make plastic water bottles each year.
Nearly every piece of plastic ever made still exists today. More than five trillion pieces of plastic are already in the oceans, and by 2050 there will be more plastic in the sea than fish, by weight, according to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.
Ways to Stay Safe
It’s good to be concerned, but you shouldn’t be fearful. We all need to live in reality, and make the decisions that are the best for us and our families. That being said, here are a few things to keep in mind to help you decide what kind of water to drink.
Be educated and know what’s in your water.
The Environmental Working Group spent the last two years compiling data from nearly 50,000 state utilities across the country and water records from the EPA to paint a vivid picture of the tap system. If you live in the States, you can input your area code for a quick scan of the chemicals that have been detected in your water since 2010 and an idea of how they stack up compared to state and national levels.
Learn what’s in your local tap water. Just search Google for “Your Town or County water utility report.” We live in Fairfax County, and our water report was right there on the home page.
James Salzman’s book Drinking Water: A History is another great resource.
Swap Your Drinking Vessels
Invest in a stainless or glass water bottle. My favorite every day water bottle is the Love Bottle. My second favorite is the stainless steel Swell Water Bottle. LifeFactory bottles are also great, along with LifeStraw which comes with a portable water filter for inside your water bottle.
Invest in the Right Water Filter
Many chemicals simply cannot be filtered out. Pesticides, drugs, radioactive particles and fluoride are all common water contaminants that are very difficult to effectively remove. As a general rule, activated carbon filters are the best, although they cannot remove fluoride. For that you need either a reverse osmosis system, a deionizer or an activated alumina filter, each of which can remove about 90 percent of the fluoride.
Water filters that are portable or attach to your sink are less costly, but not as effective. Also don’t forget, it’s not just about the water you drink, but also the water from your shower. Your skin is the largest organ in your body. We invested in a whole home water filtration system. With my autoimmune disease and also being a cancer survivor, I’m not taking any chances when it comes to my health. I’m stacking the cards in my favor as much as humanly possible.
At the end of the day, it’s all about educating yourself and making the best decisions for your health and family within your budget.
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Love, hugs, and keeping it bottled up.HERE. Sources: “Truth on Tap,” by Courtney Helgoe. Experience Life Magazine pg 60-65. http://www.collective-evolution.com/2016/01/25/pepsico-finally-comes-clean-and-admits-the-truth-about-their-bottled-water/ https://orbmedia.org/stories/Invisibles_plastics/multimedia http://wakingtimesmedia.com/no-naturally-occurring-fluoride-added-drinking-water-see-whats-really-added/?utm_source=Waking+Times+Newsletter&utm_campaign=1560e8b268-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_25f1e048c1-1560e8b268-54528685 https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2017/04/18/atrazine-disturbing-health-effects.aspx#_edn4 http://www.wakingtimes.com/2017/04/22/toxic-pesticides-found-drinking-water/?utm_source=Waking+Times+Newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=e287661588-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_term=0_25f1e048c1-e287661588-54528685 http://www.bottledwater.org/us-consumption-bottled-water-shows-continued-growth-increasing-62-percent-2012-sales-67-percent