Perhaps the greatest problem is the plastic containers in which bottled water is commonly transported and sold: "Bisphenol A is one of the most commonly used plastic materials in food and beverage containers. It is one of the top 50 chemicals in production."
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Bottled water may be all the rage with health-conscious consumers, but a new U.S. study released indicates it is not necessarily any healthier than most water taken directly from the tap.
"Just because water comes from a bottle doesn't mean it's any cleaner or safer than what comes from the tap," Erik Olson, NRDC's senior attorney and the report's lead author, said in a statement.
The NRDC said sales of bottled water have tripled in the last 10 years in the United States, in part due to advertising that hinted, sometimes misleadingly, that the water comes from pure sources such as springs.
"In fact, the study shows that between 25 and 40 percent of bottled waters are repackaged municipal (local tap) water which may or may not have been subjected to additional treatment,"
"People can drink what they want, but if they are going to spend up to 10 times more per gallon for bottled water as opposed to what comes from the tap, they have a right to know what's in the water, where it's from, and that it is absolutely pure," Olson said.
The International Bottled Water Association (IBWA), representing an industry that sells Americans an estimated 3.4 billion gallons (12.8 billion liters) of bottled water each year.
The NRDC study did find that most of the water tested was relatively free of contaminants and was of high quality, posing no threat to healthy people. But it also found that bacteria in a small amount of bottled water samples could prove a risk to people with weakened immune systems such as AIDS patients, the elderly, or people undergoing chemotherapy treatment.
The NRDC, a national organization based in New York, found that safety rules governing bottled water are often less stringent than those in place for public tap water, allowing bottled brands to get by with small amounts of E. coli or fecal coliform contamination, and to be sold to the public untested for parasites such as Cryptosporidium.
"Surprisingly, bottled water is essentially regulated on the honor system in most states," Olson said, noting that there were no testing requirements, no requirements for notification when standards are violated, and no requirement for public disclosure of known contaminants.
The NRDC recommended that the FDA set strict limits for contaminants in bottled water, and that these limits be applied to all bottled water distributed in the United States, both carbonated and noncarbonated.
It also called on the government to place new emphasis on cleaning and guaranteeing the nation's tap-water supply, noting that much of the appeal of bottled water stems from public concern over the safety of traditional drinking water supplies.
"The long-term solution to our water woes is to fix our tap water so it is safe for everyone, and tastes and smells good," the report concluded.
Plastic has been in use for many years, but it has not been publicly known that all plastics containers leach high levels of toxic contaminates into the water and other substances that they come into contact with.
The worst of these is PVC [poly vinyl chloride]. Currently many bottled water companies use cheap PVC plastic to store and transport the water in. Many homes and the water systems that deliver the water to them are piped with PVC plastic. The best [leach the fewest & lowest levels of toxic chemicals] common plastics are PET and PEP, they are also some of the most expensive. When profit is the name of the game, what kind of plastic do you think the bottled water companies will use? MiraculeWater's systems are assembled from only the highest grades of PET and PEP plastic certified to be manufactured from FDA approved food grade materials. The componets do cost a little more, but we build our water machines for Maximum Quality, not maximum profit!
There are an assortment of undesirable chemicals leached from most plastics, here we will only briefly look at one such chemical. It is by no means the only one, it should be enough to give you an idea of the dangers.
[some important studies of Bisphenol A]
"...aneuploidy in humans causes spontaneous miscarriages and some 10-20% of all birth defects, including Down Syndrome, this implicates bisphenol A in a broad range of human developmental errors..."Scientific studies have also indicated that it causes or may be linked to...proliferation of prostate cancer & other prostate problems...human obesity epidemic...breast cancer...speeds the pace of sexual development. "Bisphenol A is one of the most commonly used plastic materials in food containers, in beverage containers. This is a ubiquitous chemical ... at least in the developed world. It is one of the top 50 chemicals in production."
Bisphenol A was invented in the 1930's during the search for synthetic estrogens. The first evidence of its estrogenicity came from experiments in the 1930's feeding BPA to ovariectomised rats (Dodds and Lawson 1936, 1938).
Another compound first synthesized during that era, diethylstilbestrol, turned out to be more powerful as an estrogen, so bisphenol A was shelved... until polymer chemists discovered that it could be polymerized to form polycarbonate plastic.
Bisphenol A is now deeply imbedded in the products of modern consumer society, not just as the building block for polycarbonate plastic (from which it then leaches as the plastic ages) but also in the manufacture of epoxy resins and other plastics, including polysulfone, alkylphenolic, polyalylate, polyester-styrene, and certain polyester resins.
Bisphenol A uses don't end with the making of plastic. Bisphenol A has been used as an inert ingredient in pesticides (although in the US this has apparently been halted), as a fungicide, antioxidant, flame retardant, rubber chemical, and polyvinyl chloride stabilizer.
These uses create a myriad of exposures for people. Bisphenol A-based polycarbonate is used as a plastic coating for children's teeth to prevent cavities, as a coating in metal cans to prevent the metal from contact with food contents, as the plastic in food containers, refrigerator shelving, baby bottles, returnable containers for juice, milk and water, micro-wave ovenware and eating utensils.
Other exposures result from BPA's use in "films, sheets, and laminations; reinforced pipes; floorings; water main filters; enamels and varnishes; adhesives; artificial teeth; nail polish; compact discs; electric insulators; and as parts of automobiles, certain machines, tools, electrical appliances, and office automation instruments" (Takahashi and Oishi 2000).
BPA contamination is also widespread in the environment. For example, BPA can be measured in rivers and estuaries at concentrations that range from under 5 to over 1900 nanograms/liter. Sediment loading can also be significant, with levels ranging from under 5 to over 100 g/kg (ppb) BPA is quite persistent as under normal conditions in the environment it does not readily degrade (Rippen 1999).
What this all means is that most of your life you are within arm's length or closer to bisphenol A. No wonder the debate over its toxicity is so intense.
Some important scientific studies of Bisphenol A:
An accident in the lab, followed by careful analysis and a series of experiments, reveals that bisphenol A causes aneuploidy in mice at low levels of exposure. Because aneuploidy in humans causes spontaneous miscarriages and some estimated 10-20% of all birth defects, including Down Syndrome, this implicates bisphenol A in a broad range of human developmental errors. Hunt, PA, KE Koehler, M Susiarjo, CA Hodges, A Ilagan, RC Voigt, S Thomas, BF Thomas and TJ Hassold. 2003. Bisphenol A exposure causes meiotic aneuploidy in the female mouse. Current Biology 13: 546-553.
Using new analytical methods, a team of German scientists measured bisphenol A in the blood of pregnant women, in umbilical blood at birth and in placental tissue. All samples examined contained BPA, at levels within the range shown to alter development. Thus widespread exposure to BPA at levels of concern is no longer a hypothetical issue. It is occurring. Schönfelder, G, W Wittfoht, H Hopp, CE Talsness, M Paul and I Chahoud. 2002. Parent Bisphenol A Accumulation in the Human Maternal-Fetal-Placental Unit. Environmental Health Perspectives 110:A703-A707.
At extremely low levels, BPA promotes fat cell (adipocyte) differentiation and accumulation of lipids in a cell culture line used as a model for adipocyte formation. These two steps, differentiation and accumulation, are crucial in the development of human obesity. Hence this result opens up a whole new chapter in efforts to understand the origins of the world-wide obesity epidemic. Masuno, H, T Kidani, K Sekiya, K Sakayama, T Shiosaka, H Yamamoto and K Honda. 2002. Bisphenol A in combination with insulin can accelerate the conversion of 3T3-L1 fibroblasts to adipocytes. Journal of Lipid Research 3:676-684.
In cell culture experiments, BPA at very low (nanomolar levels) stimulates androgen-independent proliferation of prostate cancer cells. This finding is especially important because when prostate tumors become androgen-independent they no longer respond to one of the key therapies for prostate cancer. Wetherill, YB, CE Petre, KR Monk, A Puga, and KE Knudsen. 2002. The Xenoestrogen Bisphenol A Induces Inappropriate Androgen Receptor Activation and Mitogenesis in Prostatic adenocarcinoma Cells. Molecular Cancer Therapeutics 1: 515 524.
BPA induces changes in mouse mammary tissue that resemble early stages mouse and human of breast cancer: Markey, CM, EH Luque, M Muñoz de Toro, C Sonnenschein and AM Soto. 2001. In Utero Exposure to Bisphenol A Alters the Development and Tissue Organization of the Mouse Mammary Gland. Biology of Reproduction 65: 1215 1223.
Study Links Common Plastic to Birth Defects
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A common ingredient used to make plastics such as baby bottles causes birth defects in mice -- defects that could also occur in people.
They urged more research into the potential effects of bisphenol A, a chemical long criticized by environmentalists as being a hormone disruptor that could cause defects in embryos.
The defects they found, when they occur in humans, can cause miscarriages or mental retardation such as Down Syndrome -- and they seem to be caused at what were considered to be low levels of exposure, the researchers report in the journal Current Biology.
It turned out that a harsh detergent used to clean the cages had broken down the plastic, releasing bisphenol A. Do any of you wash your plastic cups, plates, dishes et cetera? If you do, then you are getting plenty of bisphenol A in your food.
CHEMICALS THAT DISRUPT HORMONES
Many labs are studying the effects of bisphenol A and other chemicals that act as endocrine disruptors -- affecting the actions of hormones in the body. Some scientists fear that developing fetuses and young children are especially vulnerable to these effects.
"Bisphenol A is one of the most commonly used plastic materials in food containers, in beverage containers. It is one of the top 50 chemicals in production."
"You don't wait to prove that it does that in people before you take some regulatory action," Vom Saal said, adding that he hopes Congress may agree to fund more studies on the effects of Bisphenol A.
*Disclaimer* It should be remembered that this brief description of water pollutants is only intended to provide an overview. This information was sourced from various websites. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA.