One of the nation’s leading microbiologists today strongly the Environmental Working Group’s study on bottled water quality, citing the study’s flawed methodology and lack of sound science.
Says Dr. Stephen Edberg, professor in the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Internal Medicine at the Yale University School of Medicine, and the director of the Clinical Microbiology Laboratory at the Yale-New Haven Hospital:
“The Environmental Working Group’s study on bottled water is troubling for both its lack of acknowledgement of scientifically based history and for failing to conduct controlled scientific experiments. Its conclusions unduly confuse consumers through faulty methodologies and unsubstantiated findings.”
Dr. Edberg highlights two egregious examples, among the study’s many flawed conclusions:
Heterotropic Plate Count (HPC) as a measure of overall bacterial contamination: “HPC is a naturally occurring bacteria. In 1992, the US Environmental Protection Agency considered using an HPC in its new total coliform rule. It found no association between these naturally occurring bacteria and human health. While in 2002, the World Health Organization concluded that HPC were natural and did not result in an adverse health effect.”
Assays for breast cancer cell proliferation: “The study’s ‘breast cancer’allegation is an egregious example of specious science. The test uses cells in the test tube, indicating that breast cancer cells grew less in tap than bottled water. The reason is obvious, tap water contains chlorine, which inhibits cell growth. No valid research would use tap water to examine cells in culture.”
Recognizing the growing need to scientifically examine the quality and safety facts concerning the country’s drinking water – both municipal and bottled – Dr. Edberg and Professor Menachem Elimelech, Ph.D., Chairman of the Yale University Department of Chemical Engineering, will co-host a drinking water symposium, “Your Drinking Water,” in March 2009, co-sponsored by the non-profit 501(c) 3 organization, the Drinking Water Research Foundation. The symposium will host leading experts to examine a range of water quality and safety issues.
“We believe that the symposium can be a needed catalyst to restore scientific rigor to a subject that has become overly emotional and characterized by pseudo science,” according to Dr. Edberg.
A variety of scientists, academics and government regulatory officials will be invited to present a full spectrum of scientific research. Dr. Edberg serves as a consultant to a range of organizations including the International Bottled Water Association and Nestle Waters North America. He has also served as a consultant for the American Water Works Association, Environmental Protection Agency and the World Health Organization.
Dr. Edberg developed the standard drinking water test that is used worldwide to ascertain microbial contamination and ensure the safety of drinking water.