Water, water everywhere but is any safe to drink?By Shawntell Muhammad | Last updated: Jan 14, 2013 - 12:44:44 PM
Bottled water often comes from local water utilities. If it’s taste you’re after, you can spend up to $5.50 a gallon on the bottled stuff, or as low as $0.15 per gallon for tap water with a home filter.
The United States and Canada spend enormous sums of money on research and regulations to keep tap water safe. The Colorado-based Water Research Foundation, the world’s largest nonprofit organization dedicated to drinking water studies, is bankrolled by 900 water utilities and spends up to $25 million a year on its research, which is used by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Health Canada, and by water utilities serving roughly 80 percent of the U.S. population.
The bottled water industry possesses no such research arm. Nor is it regulated as rigorously as water utilities.
EPA requires public water supply testing by certified labs that must give timely violation reports. Public water systems must also offer reports to customers, noting their water’s source, evidence of contaminants and regulatory compliance.
In contrast, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which regulates bottled water, cannot require certified lab testing or violation reporting. Nor does the FDA require bottled water companies to disclose where the water comes from, how it is treated or what contaminants it contains, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office.
Water, bottled or tap both can contain cancer-linked chemicals. NBC News reported on a two-year study conducted by Washington-based Environmental Working Group, 10 major bottled water brands were tested and lab tests detected 38 chemicals in all 10 brands, with an average of eight contaminants found in each kind of bottled water. Tests showed chlorine, coliform bacteria, caffeine, the pain reliever acetaminophen, fertilizer, solvents, plastic-making chemicals and the radioactive element strontium.
In his book, “How to Eat to Live,” the Hon. Elijah Muhammad cited the dangers of using certain chemicals to clean the water. He states, “Take, for instance, the use of fluoride, chloride, and sodium, which if not used correctly can destroy our entire life. Maybe it is best to find something else that will clear our water without killing both us and the poison in our food and water. The scientists should not advocate the use of such poisonous chemicals as fluoride, chloride, and sodium, which may have a bad effect on our brains and our human reproductive organs. The scientists that uses such poison on human beings want to either minimize the birth rates or cause the extinction of a people.”
Fluoride is a highly toxic substance. Consider, for example, the poison warning that the FDA now requires on all fluoride toothpastes sold in the U.S. or the tens of millions of people throughout China and India who now suffer serious crippling bone diseases from drinking water with elevated levels of fluoride.
In terms of acute toxicity (the dose that can cause immediate toxic consequences), fluoride is more toxic than lead, but slightly less toxic than arsenic. This is why fluoride has long been used in rodenticides and pesticides to kill pests like rats and insects. It is also why accidents involving over-ingestion of fluoridated dental products–including fluoride gels, fluoride supplements, and fluoridated water can cause serious poisoning incidents, including death.
Most water bottles are made with BPA. BPA stands for bisphenol A. BPA is an industrial chemical that has been used to make certain plastics and resins since the 1960s.
In particular, BPA is found in polycarbonate plastics. Polycarbonate plastics are often used in containers that store food and beverages, such as water bottles, and baby bottles and cups.
Some research has shown that BPA can seep into food or beverages from containers that are made with BPA or into your body when you handle products made with BPA. BPA remains controversial, and research studies are continuing. The American Chemistry Council, an association that represents plastics manufacturers, contends that BPA poses no risk to human health.
But the National Toxicology Program at the Department of Health and Human Services says it has “some concern” about the possible health effects of BPA on the brain, behavior and prostate gland of fetuses, infants and children. This level of concern is midway on its five-level scale, which ranges from serious to negligible.
Bottled water and tap water both contain levels of toxins, that makes it almost impossible to get around. Investing in stainless steel water bottles (adult and child sizes) with built-in filters, is good for greatly reducing toxin levels and are plastic free. For home, investing in a quality water filter will also help in toxin reduction.
(Shawntell Muhammad operates Organic Nourishment, which consists of holistic grocery shopping tours and nutritional guidance. For more information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.)