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Quenching the American Thirst
From plastic baby bottles to plastic water bottles. Remember the old fashion drinking fountain, the ones that can still seen, but rarely used? The drinking fountain that free source of H20 that you drank from at school, at work, in stores, and even in restaurants, has been replaced by a plastic bottle of filled with a new better water. But is this bottle that is carried by millions of Americans and thought to be from fresh springs, glaziers, or some other pure source really what it seems? “consumer's need to arm themselves with knowledge about what they're buying before they grab the next bottle of Dasani, Evian, or Perrier off the shelf.”[i] Water is essential to human health and some surveys indicate that most Americans don't drink enough. Americans drank more than 37 billion gallons of bottled water in 2006,[ii] which is about the same amount of water that falls over the American part Niagara Falls every seven hours. Once Americans only had drinking water from the tap or drank sodas, fruit juices, or iced teas. Now bottled water comes from many places and even though many think it may be a new idea that came about around the same time as Americans deciding that fitness was after all important. This along with the increase in American waters being more and more polluted over the past twenty or thirty years. It is however, been around for hundreds of years, for in European countries the water of mineral springs was to have religious or healing powers. The early settlers carried wooden barrels across the plains and prospectors filled their canteens from springs while panning for gold. Still what really is in that plastic bottle of water?
Some would say they are drinking spring water others glazier water. Yes, some bottled water does come from sparkling springs and other pristine sources. Yet more than twenty five percent of bottled water comes from municipal water supplies. The water is treated, purified and sold to us, often at increased prices that are a thousand fold. Most people are amazed that they are drinking glorified tap water and bottlers are not required to list the source on the label. Bottled water is not regulated as tap water, nor is it better protected.[iii] In 2008, Aquafina started to state on their labeling that its H20 comes from public water sources, and Nestle Pure Life bottles indicate whether the water comes from public, private or deep water sources. Desani acknowledges on its web site, but not on the label itself. So what does this say for the bottlers of some of our top bottled waters, and if they use plain old tap water then why is the consumer paying such outlandish prices for the little plastic bottle of tap water. Most Americans are creatures of habit, so that plastic bottle of water becomes second nature just to pick up, rather than pick up a glass and open up the tap. It is agreed that some of the tap water coming from our faucets may smell and can at times taste pretty bad. But is the little plastic bottle really as good as it seems.
Most bottled water comes in polyethylene terephthalate bottles, indicated by a number 1, PET or PETE on the bottle's bottom. The bottles are generally safe, [iv] it is also noted that scientist say when stored in hot or warm temperatures, the plastic may leach chemicals into the water. There are standards specifically established by the Food and Drug Administration that regulate the companies of bottled water. It must be
[i] Anne Christiansen Bullers, FDA Consumer magazine 2002
[ii] Gitlitz, J. and Franklin, P. “Water, Water Everywhere: The Growth of Non-carbonated Beverages in the States” Container Recycling Institute. 2006
[iii] Goldstein, E. co-director of the urban program at the National Resources Defense Council
[iv] Smith, K. PhD, past chair American Chemical Society's division of environmental chemistry