by Laura Power, MS, PhD, LDN.
© January, 2008
HOW SAFE IS TAP WATER?
Tap water is regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency. But America's tap water is
frequently contaminated with toxic heavy metals, particularly aluminum, antimony, arsenic and
sometimes lead. It also contains chlorination by-products. While most bacteria are killed, tap
water routinely harbors viruses, and can sometimes harbor parasites. Even more scary, tap
water contains hormones, pesticides, and thousands of synthetic organic chemicals. "E.P.A.
reports show that U.S. water supplies contain over 2300 cancer causing chemicals..." (The Ralph
Nader Research Group). WHY is our water so polluted? Because water treatment facilities were
not designed to take out synthetic organic chemicals nor toxic heavy metals.
HOW SAFE IS BOTTLED WATER?
Bottled water companies that transport water across state lines must meet FDA standards; but
that's only 30-40% of companies. The other 60-70% of companies are instate and don't meet
these standards. FDA standards for bottled water are less stringent than EPA standards for tap
water when it comes to: bacteria, disinfection, parasites, carcinogens, and reporting
requirements. The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) reports that 40% of all bottled
water comes from city water systems -- not spring water.
COMPARING WATER FILTER TECHNOLOGIES
There are 3 main forms of water filtration:
(1) DISTILLATION: This takes out all contaminants, but it also takes out all minerals. Long-
term use of demineralized water is unnatural and ultimately dangerous. It leads to mineral
deficiencies, and can cause osteopenia (bone demineralization). Demineralized water is more
acidic (has more hydrogen), and draws minerals and bicarbonate from blood, tissues, bones and
teeth to neutralize the acid. Acidosis increases free radicals, increasing the risk of inflammation
and cancer. This water needs to have major and trace minerals added back to it before drinking.
(2) REVERSE OSMOSIS: This is an elaborate and expensive filtration system that produces
water without contaminants, but also without minerals. It has the same effect as distilled water.
Nowhere on earth do we find naturally occurring de-mineralized water. This water needs to have
major and trace minerals added back to it before drinking.
(3) SELECTIVE FILTRATION: These are filters that have the ability to remove contaminants
but not healthful minerals. They should remove: chlorine, lead, cysts, THMs, VOCs, Lindane,
Alachlor, Atrazine, Benzene, TCE, and MTBE. They should leave in: Calcium, Magnesium, Zinc,
Iron, etc. The healthiest peoples in the world drink slightly alkaline water with lots of minerals.
You can also buy filters for your shower, refrigerator, and whole house water filters.
CHOOSING A WATER FILTER
Look for performance claims that have been certified by NSF, UL or the CA. Dept. Of Health.
Beware of undocumented performance claims and over-priced systems. Attached is a link
comparing 10 top water-filtration systems. Of these, Aquasana and Culligan rated the highest.
Both are medium priced: $125 - $160. Amway and Aquapure rated next highest, but were
over-priced. Brita pitcher filter ranked the lowest, and filtered out the least contaminents. Link
CHOOSING BOTTLED WATER
Bottled water includes the following types:
· Artesian Water (from large underground aquifers)
· Fluoridated water (F added to water)
· Ground Water (underground source)
· Mineral Water (250 ppm dissolved solids, mostly calcium and magnesium, underground source)
· Purified Water (distilled, deionized, or reverse osmosis)
· Sparkling Water (contains carbon dioxide)
· Spring Water (flows to surface from underground)
· Sterile Water (meets sterile standards)
· Well Water (from a hole tapping).
Example: Poland Spring water is the top-selling spring water brand in America. It is derived
from 6 natural springs in Maine. Recently, the company has invented a new water bottle that is
30% less plastic for its size.
Example: Deer Park Natural Spring Water comes from springs in Pennsylvania and Maryland. The
company also makes "Distilled Water" and "Drinking Water", which are municipal water and/or
well water that are treated to remove excess minerals and impurities. Both are less expensive
than "Spring" water.
CONTROVERSIES OVER BOTTLED WATER
The Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club, and World Wildlife Fund have all urged their
supporters to consume less bottled water, and various campaigns against bottled water are
starting to appear. Many of these campaigns claim that bottled water is no better than tap
water. Organizations such as Corporate Accountability International say that millions of plastic
bottles end up in landfills.
Supporters of bottled water view the product not just as an alternative for municipal water, but
as a healthy choice instead of soft drinks or sport drinks that can be purchased in restaurants,
convenience stores or vending machines. The bottled water industry points out that PET bottles
(polyethylene terephthalate) make up only one-third of 1 percent of the waste stream in the
United States. The production of bottled water costs between $0.25 and $2 per bottle.
According to Bottledwaterblues.com about 90% of this cost is from making the bottle, label, and
For more on the controversy, see Wikipedia....
Bottled spring water is safer than tap water. So if you are going to drink bottled water, buy the
5-gallon bottles for home delivery, which are recycled every month by the supplier. You can
buy a spigot that fits in the bottle that operates on flash light batteries for about $25 at a water
store. Or if you buy spring water in small bottles, recycle the bottles each week. You should
also purchase a good water filter for cooking and for your refrigerator.