Wednesday, October 15, 2008

38 Pollutants Found in 10 Brands of Bottled Water

One more study came out to prove that bottled water is not as good as people may believe. The study, released by the EWG, tested 10 brands of bottled water and found that Wal-Mart's Sam's Choice contained chemical levels that exceeded legal limits in California and the voluntary standards adopted by the industry. The names of the other 8 brands were not released by EWG. In the EWG study, the University of Iowa Hygienic Laboratory screened for 170 possible contaminants and found 38 pollutants in 24 samples from 10 major brands purchased in California, Washington, D.C., and eight other states (an average of 8 contaminants in each brand).

It was found that the levels of disinfection byproducts exceeded safety standards established by the state of California and the bottled water industry:

  • Walmart’s Sam’s Choice bottled water purchased at several locations in the San Francisco Bay Area was polluted with disinfection byproducts called trihalomethanes at levels that exceed the state’s legal limit for bottled water (CDPR 2008). These byproducts are linked to cancer and reproductive problems and form when disinfectant react with residual pollution in the water
  • Also in Walmart’s Sam’s Choice brand, lab tests found a cancer-causing chemical called bromodichloromethane at levels that exceed safety standards for cancer-causing chemicals under California’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986 (Proposition 65, OEHHA 2008). EWG is filing suit under this act to ensure that Walmart posts a warning on bottles as required by law: “WARNING: This product contains a chemical known to the State of California to cause cancer."
  • These same chemicals also polluted Giant's Acadia brand at levels in excess of California’s safety standards, but this brand is sold only in Mid-Atlantic states where California’s health-based limits do not apply. Nevertheless, disinfection byproducts in both Acadia and Sam’s Choice bottled water exceeded the industry trade association’s voluntary safety standards (IBWA 2008a), for samples purchased in Washington DC an 5 states (Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, and California). The bottled water industry boasts that its internal regulations are stricter than the FDA bottled water regulations(IBWA 2008b), but voluntary standards that companies are failing to meet are of little use in protecting public health.

Other contaminants found include fluoride, fertilizers, drugs (e.g., acetaminophen and caffeine), synthetic chemicals (e.g., acetaldehyde, hexane, toluene, etc.), bacteria, arsenic, and radioactive pollutants.

What to do?

The EWG recommends:

  • Drink filtered tap water. Carbon filters (pitcher or tap-mounted) are affordable and reduce many common water contaminants, like lead and byproducts of the disinfection process used to treat municipal tap water. Install a reverse osmosis filter if you can afford it, to remove contaminants that carbon filters can’t eliminate, like arsenic and perchlorate (rocket fuel).
  • Change your water filters on time. Old filters aren’t safe – they harbor bacteria and let contaminants through.
  • Forgo the plastic bottles
  • Use safe water for formula. Use filtered tap water for your baby’s formula. If your water is not fluoridated, you can use a carbon filter. If it is, use a reverse osmosis filter to remove the fluoride, because fluoridated water can damage an infant’s developing teeth.
  • Consumers can urge policymakers to improve and adequately fund source water protection programs

In my house, we use filtered water and occasionally buy (sparkling) mineral water in glass bottle which can be found at Costco, Trader Joe's, Whole Foods.

For more information you can read my previous posts about tap water and bottled water.


deets said...

Thanks for your post. The water issue always irks me. Moving water around by trucks and piling plastics on our landfills makes absolutely no sense and has health consequences. The actual safety and accountability around standards for the water itself is obviously an issue, as well.

I used to buy the glass bubbly waters, too. Then I found a way to make my own. It does use plastic, but with the quantity that we drink seems to be the best option:

It makes great plain bubbly water. We do not use their syrups, but by d'arbo fruit-based syrups at our local grocery store.

nyscof said...

Physicians' Group Opposes Fluoride in Tape Water

New York - October 2008 –
“Fluoridation of drinking water is scientifically untenable, and should not be part of a public health initiative or program,” says the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE) in a new published statement.

CAPE is Canada’s leading voice on environmental health issues.

Against a backdrop of intense opposition to the fluoridation of public drinking water in several communities in Alberta, Ontario and Quebec, CAPE asserts:

A) fluoridation is unlikely to be the cause of the cavity decline in Europe and North America,

B) the potential for fluoride’s adverse effects is real, and

C) current evidence points in the direction of caution.

Paul Connett, PhD, Executive Director, Fluoride Action Network says, “CAPE joins a growing list of environmental health experts who have called for an end to the fluoridation of public drinking water.

They include:

• Vyvyan Howard, MD, PhD, President, International Society of Doctors for the Environment
• Ken Cook and Richard Wiles, Environmental Working Group
• Lois Gibbs, Center for Health, Environment, and Justice
• Joseph Mercola, Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine
• Theo Colborn, PhD, co-author, “Our Stolen Future”
• Sam Epstein, MD, Chairman, Cancer Prevention Coalition
• The current and six past Presidents of the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology
• Board of Directors (2007), American Academy of Environmental Medicine
• FIVE Goldman Prize winners - given for excellence in protecting the environment

These are among over 1800 professionals who have signed a statement calling for an end to fluoridation worldwide see

According to Connett, “Citizens facing well-financed efforts to fluoridate their communities need to know that US governmental agencies (particularly the CDC) are ignoring the voluminous body of scientific evidence on the adverse effects of fluoride. The National Research Council of the National Academies published a landmark report on these effects in 2006. More than 2 years after its release, CDC and fluoridation promoting agencies in Australia, Canada, Ireland, Israel, New Zealand and the UK act as if this report was never published. We urge communities to reject fluoridation proposals until promoters can provide a rational scientific response to fluoride’s dangers, which includes 23 peer-reviewed and published studies indicating that fluoride can lower children’s IQ. Fluoridation exposes infants to 250 times the level of fluoride in human breast milk. That is reckless.”

CAPE’s statement is online at

Take Action to Stop Fluoridation here: http://congress.FluorideAction.Net

SOURCE: Fluoride Action Network