DANGERS OF DRINKING BOTTLED ALKALINE WATER


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  • Offers false sense of security making it a very dangerous water option
  • High risk of bacteria leaching into water if filters are not changed
  • Toxic chemicals and chlorine still remain

Although it’s not as mainstream as other types of water, you may have seen bottled alkaline water for sale and wondered whether it’s worth spending your money on, or even whether it’s a viable alternative to owning a water ionizer.

How Does It Compare?

Bottled alkaline water is fine to drink if you don’t have an ionizer, if you’re away from home or simply prefer to avoid tap water or other types of the bottled stuff. However, it is not the case that bottled alkaline water can compare, in terms of the benefits it delivers, to an ionizer.

The water will hydrate you, but in a way that’s more comparable to regular water, rather than ionized alkaline water, which is up to 6 times more hydrating.

Bottled alkaline water does not contain the antioxidants that are found in ionized water, nor does it offer the same, all-important high pH value. Depending on the brand, bottled alkaline water might have been cleaned by a disinfecting process, reverse osmosis or distillation, with all naturally beneficial minerals removed as a result, only to be added back to the ‘clean’ water in the form of mineral supplements.

Plastic Is Not Fantastic

Most alkaline waters are sold in plastic bottles, which continue to be scrutinized for their effect on our health. An increasing number of studies conclude that yes, Bisphenol A (BPA, the substance found in most plastics) does leak out of the plastic itself to contaminate the contents. While some studies seek to assert that there is no detrimental effect on our health, we’re still learning about its long-term effects. Knowingly consuming BPA on a regular basis isn’t something that many people feel confortable with.

BPA is hard to avoid, as it can be found in so many every day objects, but reducing the amount we actively imbibe makes good sense.

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Better Than Other Bottles

There are many other types of bottled water that fall short of bottled alkaline water, and as we indicated earlier, it’s a better option than many. Confronted with a refrigerator filled with different types of bottled water, alkaline water is probably one of the best to reach for, despite it’s relative shortcomings compared to ionized alkaline water from a water ionizer.

DANGERS OF DRINKING TAP WATER


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  • The EPA does not regulate 51 known water contaminants
  • Lead, arsenic, chlorine, bacteria, fecal matter and other toxins are VERY common
  • Contains no additional health benefits

Even now, it’s easy to assume that in a country like ours, you should be able to turn on the tap and feel confident that the water that flows out of it is safe for you and your family to drink. However, there have enough high profile news reports during the last couple of years for the message to get through that in fact, America’s tap water isn’t necessarily safe.

America's Aging Pipelines

It isn’t a secret that the pipework that criss-crosses the country has been there for a long time. Parts of the water system are over 100 years old. In many areas, the water supply was originally built to supply only a few hundred, or a few thousand people. As the population grew, and towns and cities expanded, the pressure on those aging water pipes increased. The pipes were originally laid for a very different America of 100 years ago.

One of the most frightening stories to have emerged is the presence of lead in drinking water. In Flint, MI, the story that the town’s water contained dangerously high levels of lead hit the headlines. And yet Flint is not alone. The water-bearing infrastructure across the whole country is in trouble, and the cracks are, literally, starting to show.

'Buried No Longer'

In 2012, the American Water Works Association published a fascinating and worrying report, ‘Buried No Longer: Confronting America’s Water infrastructure Challenge.’

A number of key findings in the report bring home the scale of the problem.

‘Investment needs for buried drinking water infrastructure total more than $1 trillion nationwide over the next 25 years,’

American Water Works Association

The estimated aggregate cost of replacing the 700,000 miles of water bearing pipework totals over $2.1 trillion.

Aging pipes corrode and leak. The corrosion and solder is how lead ends up in the water supply and coming out of our taps. There’s chemical and polluted groundwater contamination to consider, which allegedly will increase as a result of fracking.

Killing With Kindness?

In addition to all of this, there’s also the major problem of the stuff that’s put into our water, that’s designed to protect us. Chlorine is added as an all-purpose disinfectant which nullifies pathogens. However, chlorine reacts with organic waste particles and produces a stew of by-product chemicals called trihalomethanes (THM). These chemicals are toxic and harmful to our health, and are implicated in cases of rectal and colon cancer, bladder cancer and incidents of miscarriage.

In a report from the Environmental Working Group, it was found that in tests that involved 201 water utilities, serving 100 million people, all of the test samples contained THMs.

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Agricultural Contamination

Another concern is the effect that increased agriculture has on our water supply. Chemical fertilizers and manure runoff can contain phosphorus and nitrate. These elements can lead in turn to both direct health issues from consumption of nitrate in particular; and the need for further chemical water treatment to eliminate algal blooms due to excessive levels of phosphorus.

All in all, tap water cannot be considered the safe option that it once was.

Patching Up The Problem

There’s not enough money in the pot to fix America’s water problems, and so repairs and replacement pipes are fitted on a piecemeal basis. Before the scale of the problem really took hold of the public’s attention with beleaguered Flint, some $6 billion was set aside by congress to help the water crisis, in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. That’s a lot of money, but nowhere near enough.

It’s safe to assume that water quality on a wholesale basis isn’t going to improve anytime soon. What you can do is find out about your own water supply and whether it gives you cause for concern. To access information about current local water quality, you can apply for a report from American Water.

Where Do We Go From Here?

DANGERS OF DRINKING BOTTLED WATER


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  • Plastic chemicals such as phthalates (which mimic the female hormone estrogen) leach into the water
  • Expensive - up to 10 times the cost of ionized water
  • Most bottled waters are simply RO water and may contain bacteria from bottling process

There’s no doubt that being able to buy a bottle of water is pretty handy. Those smaller-sized ones are particularly convenient to stow away in a bag for long journeys, quick wipe ups, or hand over to the kids.

And generally speaking (there are exceptions that we’ll return to), drinking bottled water isn’t directly dangerous to your health. But indirectly? When you consider the cost to the earth and how that impacts on our lives, and the legacy that we’re blithely handing to our children; you start to understand why drinking bottled water is really very dangerous.

What's In The Bottle?

To begin, what is bottled water? Sometimes it’s carbonated and mineral-rich. Sometimes it’s just regular filtered water. In many cases, the water is drawn from municipal supplies. The problem is really about what that water comes packaged in.

Plastic bottles are among the planet’s worst enemies, simply because of the sheer number of them. Our plastic footprint rivals our carbon one for the immense harm it wreaks on the planet. And the numbers are astonishing. It’s estimated that Americans use around 50 billion plastic water bottles each year.

The Reality Of Recycling

But we recycle, right? So that must help.

Well, yes. But the rate of recycling just can’t match those figures. The national recycling rate is around 23 per cent. Those figures mean at that rate of consumption, around 38 billion water bottles go into landfill every single year. That can’t go it, can it?

And what does ‘going into landfill’ actually mean? Its one of those phrases that is often repeated, but maybe it’s worth lingering for a moment on what actually happens to those billions of plastic bottles once they’re unceremoniously dumped.

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Plastic Planet

Plastic in landfill sites takes up to 1000 years to decompose. As it decomposes, it can leak pollutants in the soil, and into our water supply.

Aside from landfill, plastic bottles are helping to destroy the natural environment elsewhere. Over two decades, scientists at the remarkable Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute (WHOI) and the Sea Education Association (SEA) have analyzed plastic debris from the surface of the Atlantic Ocean and concluded that there are literally millions of tons of plastic floating on our seas The world in a plastic trash bagPlastic bottles can fill with water and sink to the ocean floor. Marine life is known to try to feed on discarded plastic, and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and the World Economic Forum issued a recent report which claims that by 2050, there will be more plastic in the sea than there are fish.

It’s not easy to recycle plastic as there are different types, with different chemical compositions, sometimes requiring different recycling treatments. In order for recycling to happen, the different types of plastic must be separated, which on the kind of scale we’re looking at as a nation, is incredibly challenging.

What Is A 'Plastic Bottle'?

In fact, when we start to consider the different types of plastic, it leads to another concern when it comes to drinking bottled water. What exactly are plastic water bottles made from?

Most bottles are made out of polyethylene terephthalate. This isn’t an inherently dangerous composite material; except when the bottles are stored in warm or hot temperatures (and let’s face it, when do we usually buy bottled water?), scientists believe that the chemicals from the plastic can leach into the water itself.

The levels are considered to be below that which is likely to cause harm, but the situation continues to be monitored by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Plastic Isn't Fantastic

Another chemical that the FDA is monitoring for its impact on human health is Bisphenol A (BPA), present in the manufacture of some water bottles. For now, the FDA are not issuing any warnings, although it did go as far as making the following recommendations, ‘for consumers who want to limit their exposure to BPA,

  • Plastic containers have recycle codes on the bottom. Some, but not all, plastics that are marked with recycle codes 3 or 7 may be made with BPA.
  • Do not put very hot or boiling liquid that you intend to consume in plastic containers made with BPA. BPA levels rise in food when containers/products made with the chemical are heated and come in contact with the food.
  • Discard all bottles with scratches, as these may harbor bacteria and, if BPA-containing, lead to greater release of BPA.

With the environmental time-bomb that plastic bottles heavily contributes to, and the potential health issues that are raised by drinking water contained in disposable plastic bottles, it’s hard to give a green light to bottled water as a ‘safe’ option.

And finally, even if you can shrug off concerns about the future of the planet, and the risk of chemicals leaking into your water from the bottle, a German peer-reviewed study published in 2013, revealed that in 18 brands of water, an astonishing 24,520 suspect chemicals were found

“We have shown that antiestrogens and antiandrogens are present in the majority of bottled water products. …Bottled water from six different countries has been found to contain estrogenic, antiestrogenic, and antiandrogenic (this study), as well as androgenic, progestagenic, and glucocorticoid-like chemicals. This demonstrates that a popular beverage is contaminated with diverse-acting EDCs.”

  • Martin Wagner
  • Michael P. Schlüsener
  • Thomas A. Ternes
  • Jörg Oehlmann
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