Do you ever give yourself a pat on the back for choosing bottled water instead of a soft drink while eating out? Or is that just me? 😀 While water is definitely better than soft drink, drinking water from a plastic water bottle is definitely not as healthy as what I thought.
I recently watched the documentary Tapped which examines the role of the bottled water industry and its effects on our health and the environment, and it’s not good. The bottled water industry is highly unregulated, damaging to our health and the environment and is costing us thousands times the price of tap water despite often being exactly the same thing.
- Most plastic water bottles are made using Polyethylene terephthalate (PET/PETE), which is in the benzene family. The World Health Organization states that ‘human exposure to benzene has been associated with a range of acute and long-term adverse health effects and diseases, including cancer and aplastic anaemia’ (source)
- The documentary makers undertook multiple studies, sending the bottled water to two different testing facilities. The results were analysed by Dr. Stephen King, an epidemiologist and toxicologist who found the results to be “horrifying”. Dr King found that the water contained:
- Toluene (previously mentioned as one of the toxic trio in my nail polish post): a neurotoxic agent linked to adverse reproductive outcomes
- Styrene: a cancer causing agent linked to adverse reproductive outcomes
- Phthalates: three different types, linked to poor reproductive health
- Bisphenol A (BPA): acts like estrogen, a hormone that determines sexual traits and is key in the development of brain function and nerve cells (source)
- Frederick vom Saal, is a biology professor at the University of Missouri and a leading expert on the harmful effects of bisphenol A shared that:
- Larger water bottles are often made of plastic containing BPA which leeches into the water
- Even at very low doses, BPA acts like estrogen. Vom Saal conducted a study with BPA levels 25,000 times lower than any study conducted before it, and found that BPA still profoundly damaged every part of the male reproductive system in mice
- All major health trends, such as childhood diabetes, obesity, breast cancer, prostate cancer, brain disorders, ADD, liver disease and low sperm count, can be linked to BPA exposure
- Tap water has to be tested many times a day and depending on the size of the town, it can be around 300+ times a month, compared to one person at the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) who manages billions of bottles of water
- The FDA regulates products that are involved in interstate commerce so with 70-80% of all bottled water purchased and consumed within the one state, there is no regulation
- The manufacturing of the plastic bottles creates waste which has been linked to many cancers. Birth defects are 84% higher in Corpus Christi, where a manufacturing plant is located, than the Texas state average
While you may think the amount of chemicals you’re exposed to is quite small, endocrinologists have found that the amount of a substance necessary to cause harm on a hormonal level are very small. If you’re pregnant or trying for a baby, it is also extra important as research shows that exposing a developing foetus to additional estrogen can permanently alter crucial phases of development (source).
- Of the 80 million water bottles that Americans consume daily, 30 million end up in landfill, every day
- Plastic water bottle manufacturing uses 74 million gallons of oil every year
- Chemical leaks from manufacturing plants ruin the ground water, soil, air, so choosing to not consume bottled water doesn’t mean you won’t be exposed to dangers from them
- The average recycle rate worldwide for beverage containers is 50%, with many ending up in the ocean. Research conducted in 1999 found 6 times more plastic than plankton. In 2008 they found 48 times more plastic than plankton
- Fish are becoming contaminated from consuming plastic from water bottles
- Aside from the health and environmental cost, bottled water is said to be 1000 times the cost of tap water
- 40% of bottled water is just filtered tap water which the company has collected for free, result in millions of dollars in profit for the company
There are many negative health and environmental consequences from drinking bottled water and while I think it’s very important to drink adequate amounts of water, I will now consider what I drink it from.
- Purchase a BPA-free drink bottle and fill it with tap water
- If you do buy a bottle of water, don’t reuse the bottle again and ensure it’s recycled
If you’re interested in watching Tapped (which I recommend you do!), you can purchase the DVD from here.
Will this make you change your consumption of bottled water?