Feature

Health scare of the week: Bottled water: Not so pure

Tests on bottled water show that it contains an array of contaminants, including bacteria, fertilizer, industrial chemicals, drugs, and even radioactive elements.

A new set of tests on various brands of bottled water has revealed that they contain an alarming array of contaminants, including bacteria, fertilizer, industrial chemicals, drugs, and even radioactive elements. Though none of the contaminants was found in amounts that exceeded federal health regulations, the study did find that bottled waters are often less pure than the stuff you get from the tap. “If you’re going to pay 1,500 times more for bottled water than for tap, you’d expect that you’d be getting a cleaner, better product,” Renee Sharp of the Environmental Working Group tells Bloomberg News. “And that’s not necessarily true.” Sharp’s team found a total of 38 different contaminants in bottled water, with an average of eight different types per brand. The problem, Sharp explains, is that commercial water retailers are less strictly regulated than public water utilities, which are required to do rigorous testing and filtering. This study raises an obvious question, says Sharp. Why drink bottled water at all? “The environmental impacts of bottled water production are enormous in terms of the amount of energy that goes into producing the bottles and shipping them around the country,” she says.

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