There is so much wrong with bottled water that it’s hard to know where to begin (read Elizabeth Royte’s Bottlemania, for starters). But let’s start with the fact that bottled water is the most brilliantly marketed product ever invented. The companies get it practically free out of a tap and charge you a dollar or more – sometimes a lot more – for a quart or less). The plastic bottles pollute the environment. Worst of all, drinking bottled water makes people less apt to be vigilant about protecting public water supplies.
And it isn’t even regulated very well, or so says a report from the Government Accountability Office. The title says it all: “Bottled water: FDA safety and consumer protections are often less stringent than comparable EPA protections for tap water.” The report was released in time for congressional hearings on the topic. Reporters had a lot of fun with the self-interested statements of industry people who testified.
None of this gets into the additional question of bisphenol A and other endocrine disrupters in plastic bottles that are sometimes used for water. The Canadians are now saying that bisphenol A is safe at amounts commonly used, and so is a California expert committee. The American Chemistry Council is pleased with these decisions.
Where does that leave us? Defend tap water! As for endocrine disrupters, stay tuned but why use bisphenol A when other alternatives are so readily available.
July 24 update: The International Bottled Water Association is suing a maker of steel water bottles for false advertising. The bottle maker’s ads apparently suggested that plastic water bottles leak synthetic estrogens. Bisphenol A must be causing serious problems for the bottled water industry, along with all those pesky enviromental concerns.