Bottled Water Quality Investigation

10 Major Brands, 38 Pollutants

October 15, 2008

Bottled Water Quality Investigation : Recommendations

The commercial success of bottled water in the US has been driven in part by concerns over tap water quality. And while drinking pure water is a healthy choice, bottled water is not the answer. Our study shows that bottled water is polluted with a range of contaminants, including many of the same chemical pollutants typical in municipal tap water supplies. The only effective long-term solution to ensure the safety of drinking water supplies across the country is protection and cleanup of our rivers, streams, and ground water from pollution.

Policy Recommendations

  • FDA should hold the bottled water industry to the same standard of transparency that our water utilities must meet in terms of where the water comes from, how it's treated, and the residual pollution it contains. Citizens have a right to know this basic information about the bottled water that they are purchasing.
  • Policy-makers should expand resources dedicated to protecting rivers, streams and ground water that serve as drinking water supplies. This is the only fail-safe way to ensure clean, safe tap water across the country.

What can consumers do?

  • Drink filtered tap water Some reports show that up to 44 per cent of bottled water is just tap water – filtered in some cases and untreated in others (O'Rourke, 2008). It has also been noted that bottled water can cost up to 10,000 times more than tap water (Earth Policy Institute, 2006). A carbon filter, whether tap mounted or the pitcher variety, costs a manageable $0.31 per gallon, and removes many of the contaminants found in public tap water supplies, therefore rendering the water just as good as, if not better than, most brands of bottled water.
  • Forgo the plastic bottles Plastic additives, many of which have not been fully assessed for safety, have been shown to migrate from the bottles into bottled water to be consumed (Nawrocki 2002). EWG recommends that consumers use a stainless steel bottle filled with filtered tap water to avoid these potentially harmful contaminants.
  • Consumers can urge policymakers to improve and adequately fund source water protection programs The only long-term solution to our water problem is a clean water supply. This can only be achieved if policymakers enforce more stringent source water protection programs to ensure that our rivers, streams, and groundwater are adequately protected from industrial, agricultural, and urban pollution.