News & Media

News & Media

May 5, 2008

Are we just supposed to not drink water at all?

The Washington Post yesterday outlined “some things to consider” if you are worried about trace amounts of pharmaceuticals found in the tap water supply.  One of the most egregiously false “tips” mentioned:

Don’t switch to bottled water.  “Since our bottled water comes from the same aquifers and municipal water systems as our tap water, and since [most] bottled water is not even tested for these chemicals, switching to bottled water makes no sense,” says Colin Beavan, who writes the eco-blog No Impact Man. Besides, residue from the bottles themselves may be worse than whatever lurks in tap water, not to mention the carbon footprint and plastic waste created in their manufacturing.

So if they say tap water is unsafe and bottled water is too, are we supposed to just not drink any water at all?

Of course not.

It should first be mentioned that the “source” the Post uses is an individual who takes extreme measures to cut back on his personal carbon footprint.  Fair enough, but taking his viewpoints as facts while ignoring the science is inappropriate, particularly for a publication such as the Post.

Here are the facts:

Not all bottled water comes from the same source as tap water.  And that which does is not just tap water in a bottle.  Some water does come from the same aquifers and systems as your tap, however, bottled water companies use a multi-barrier approach to further help ensure safety of their products.

Consumers can remain confident in choosing bottled water as companies that produce it go to great lengths to protect and monitor the source and put the water through treatments such as reverse osmosis, distillation, filtration and other purification techniques, and ozonation or ultraviolet (UV) light.

The combination of FDA and state regulations, along with a multi-barrier approach and other protective measures ensures safety of the products.

Perhaps the following quote should have been contained in the article beside Mr. Beavan’s.  From Yale University School of Medicine Stephen C. Edberg, Ph.D., ABMM:

“The technical and safety measures used to produce and process bottled water are extremely effective in protecting the product from these and other substances that were reported in the [original March Associated Press article on pharmaceuticals in the national drinking water supply], should they be present in source water to begin with.  This report raises no concern for the safety of bottled water.”

The International Bottled Water Association (IBWA) is the authoritative source of information about all types of bottled waters. Founded in 1958, IBWA's membership includes U.S. and international bottlers, distributors and suppliers. IBWA is committed to working with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which regulates bottled water as a packaged food product, and state governments to set stringent standards for safe, high quality bottled water products. Additionally, IBWA requires member bottlers to adhere to the IBWA Bottled Water Code of Practice, which mandates additional standards and practices that in some cases are more stringent than federal and state regulations. A key feature of the IBWA Model Code is an annual plant inspection by an independent, third party organization.

For more information about IBWA, bottled water and a list of member‚ brands, please contact
Chris Hogan, IBWA‚ Vice President of Communications at 703-647-4609 or [email protected].

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