Toxic plastic bottles versus tap water

Recent scientific studies indicate that hormone-disrupting chemicals are steadily leaching out of these billions of non-recycled plastic water bottles and slowly are poisoning us.

Although many consumers realize that industry, factory farms, government agencies (especially the military) and municipalities are polluting our drinking water supply, this awareness has led to a widespread phobia of tap water that has, ironically, exacerbated the water pollution problem. The average American adult spends nearly $200 each year on bottled water.

It takes five times as much water to make a plastic bottle than the amount of water the bottle actually holds. Last year, U.S. companies used 1.5 million barrels of oil in the manufacture of disposable water bottles. That is the equvalent of the fuel used by 100,000 cars.

Recent scientific studies indicate that hormone-disrupting chemicals are steadily leaching out of these billions of non-recycled plastic water bottles and slowly are poisoning us.

Bottled water isn’t necessarily cleaner. According to the San Francisco Chronicle and information from the Environmental Law Foundation, as much as 40 percent of bottled water is, in reality, just repackaged tap water. That may be a good thing, considering federal standards for tap water are actually higher than those for bottled water.

But how do you know if the water coming from your home or workplace faucet is actually OK to drink? Obviously, in some cases it is not, but here are some links to help you find out if your tap water fears are really justified:

Water suppliers are required to provide their customers with an annual consumer confidence (drinking water quality) report that tells where your water comes from and what is in it. The report is free and relatively thorough, but water suppliers are not required by law to test for all types of contaminants. To get your local municipality’s report, check www.epa.gov/safewater/dwinfo/.

For home testing, the Watersafe Test Kit identifies harmful levels of eight different common contaminants in water: bacteria, lead, nitrates, nitrites, chlorine, pH, hardness and two common pesticides. Although the kit tests for the eight most ubiquitous types of contaminants, there are other less common pollutants it does not assess. You can use it anytime and anywhere and it sells for $20 at www.nextag.com/watersafe-test-kits/.

For a thorough laboratory water analysis, NT Labs provides the Watercheck, which includes a 75-item check for bacteria, heavy metals, inorganic chemicals, trihalomethanes, 44 volatile organic chemicals, and 20 pesticides, herbicides and PCBs. The cost is $159, but you could save money if you didn’t have to invest in bottled water and filters. See: www.ntllabs.com.

There is a solution — buy a water filter and a non-plastic water container. A quick online search will also reveal affordable, portable water filters for travel. You will save yourself and the environment a lot of expense.

Also, it takes two minutes to drink a bottle of water, but it takes thousands of years for that piece of plastic garbage to break down.

 

Resource: www.organicconsumers.org.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 26, Number 5, October/November 2007.

 

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