Water, Bottled or Tapped Out?
an Excerpt

How safe is the water you're drinking? Do you know what's in your family's drinking water? With worry over our nation's water supply at an all-time high, cautious parents are reading bottled water labels and studying municipal water treatment reports to learn what's in their H2o. Here's a look a the latest findings:

In ancient times "water dowsers" would seek out and find underground water by walking the land with his or her dowsers' stick until it was forcefully thrust downward at the location where the water was to be found. The action behind the stick's movement was attributed variously as occult or divine. Consumers today are modern day "water dowsers" with their shopping carts as divining rods and advertising the powerful force behind where that shopping cart will end up pointing.

However, controversy has recently surrounded the $22 billion (U.S.) water bottling industry. Reports that suggest that bottled water health benefits are questionable have made this a hot topic one that is boiling over and has many households rethinking their water purchasing habits, putting down their "divining rod" and just praying for a rain of understanding.

The Conservation group, World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), is calling for consumers to forego bottled water for the sake of the environment and their wallets. They claim that tap water is just as healthy, if not healthier than bottled water and is more sustainable for the environment.

The WWF bases its claims on a 26-page study they commissioned by Catherine Ferrier of the University of Geneva, Switzerland. The study is called "Bottled Water: Understanding a social phenomenon." The study says that despite selling for 500 to 1,000 times the price of tap water, bottled water may be no safer or healthier than tap water in many countries. Yet, it is the fastest-growing drinks industry in the world.

Also of note, some substances may prove more difficult to manage in bottled than in tap water. The WHO (World Health Organization) says that this is generally because bottled water is stored for longer periods and at higher temperatures than water distributed in piped distribution systems. Control of materials used in containers and closures for bottled waters is, therefore, of special concern.

In addition, some microorganisms, which are normally of little or no public health significance, may grow to higher levels in bottled waters. This growth appears to occur less frequently in gasified water and in water bottled in glass containers compared to still water and water bottled in plastic containers. However, the public health significance of this remains little understood, especially for vulnerable individuals, such as infants and children, pregnant women, immuno-compromised individuals and the elderly.

Add to that the deceptive practice, of many water bottling companies, of putting "pure", "spring" and "glacier" on their labels while actually having bottled their water from municipal water sources and the waters start looking muddied indeed. These companies justify the use of these "pristine" descriptors as "brand building." Many consumers, needless to say, vociferously disagree once they discover the "brand building".


Authors Note: This 1500 word article covers, in precise and accessible language, the pros and cons of bottled water vs. tapped water, information about The Safe Drinking Water Act, a sidebar of water facts, a sidebar of water hazards and how to purify water in emergencies and a sidebar of ideas to address the issue of taste in municipal drinking water.

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