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This information sheet, Bottled Water: Questions and Answers (PDF), answers common questions about bottled water. Bottled water is water sealed in a bottle or other container. Note that bottled water is different from vended water, which comes from a machine that dispenses water into a container.
Tap water from public water systems is regulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the Safe Drinking Water Act. The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) regularly tests public tap water for safety. The EPA requires the results of this testing to be made available to the public. The EPA also requires information about potential health effects of drinking water contaminants, the source of the water, and compliance with regulations to be made public.
Bottled water is regulated as a food product by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA does not require bottled water companies to use certified laboratories for water quality testing or to report test results. The FDA does require bottled water labels to list ingredients and nutritional information.
Bottled water comes from a variety of sources, including many of the same sources as tap water. Sometimes the water you can buy in a bottle is simply public tap water that has been enhanced in some way, such as changing the mineral content. Other sources of bottled water include springs, wells, and surface waters.
In these situations above, it is especially important to use bottled water for mixing infant formula or giving water to babies less than one year old. Bottled water may also be the best choice if a person has a health condition requiring lower levels of some substance. Talk to your doctor for advice on whether bottled water is appropriate for you.
Adding fluoride to public water is an effective public health measure to prevent tooth decay and improve oral health. In Minnesota, water from municipal public water systems almost always has fluoride.2 In contrast, bottled water may not contain fluoride, or if it does, it may not be at an optimal level.
If you buy bottled water, it is important to find out how much fluoride, if any, there is in the water. Some companies add fluoride to their product, and the amount must be included on the label. If fluoride is in the water naturally, the label does not have to include fluoride information. Contact the bottling company to find out how much fluoride is in their product.
The FDA considers bottled water to have an unlimited shelf life if it is produced properly and is unopened. Bottled water companies may choose to add a date to the bottle due to concerns about taste and odor, not safety. Bottled water should be stored in a cool location away from direct sunlight.
Bottled water can cost thousands of times more than tap water. In Minnesota, tap water costs 0.58 cents ($0.0058) per gallon on average. According to the Beverage Marketing Corporation (BMC), the average wholesale price per of domestic non-sparkling bottled water was $1.18 per gallon in 2019.3
In the U.S., tap water must meet the Safe Drinking Water Act standards established by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). These regulations limit the number of contaminants present in water supplied to homes.
Public water suppliers move water from its source to treatment plants, where it undergoes chemical disinfection. The clean water ultimately gets delivered to households through a system of underground pipes.
Tap water contains added minerals, including calcium, magnesium, and potassium. Hard tap water has higher mineral contents, which some consider more healthful. However, minerals in hard water form deposits that can corrode pipes or restrict the flow.
According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), mineral water must contain at least 250 parts per million of total dissolved solids. The FDA prohibit these manufacturers from adding minerals to their products.
Magnesium also supports strong bones. The results of a large-scale 2014 cohort study suggested that older women with a high magnesium intake, of more than 422.5 mg per day, had more bone density than those with a lower intake of the mineral.
According to the findings of a randomized controlled study, drinking mineral water containing magnesium sulfate and sodium sulfate led to more frequent bowel movements and an improved quality of life among people with constipation.
In 2018, researchers published a systematic review of current data on plastic toxicity. While they acknowledge that more research is needed, the authors report that microplastics in bottled mineral water do not appear to pose a safety risk.
Carbonated water has a lower pH than regular water, making it slightly acidic. According to a recent study, sparkling water manufactured by a soda carbonator significantly reduced enamel hardness on teeth in a laboratory setting.
They found that tap water processing methods were the most favorable option. The scientists also noted that producing glass bottles consumed the largest amount of raw material and required the most energy.
Also, in the U.S., the EPA strictly regulates tap water quality to ensure that it is free from harmful microbes. Tap water also contains added minerals, making it a cheaper alternative to mineral water.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are both responsible for the safety of drinking water. EPA regulates public drinking water (tap water), while FDA regulates bottled drinking water.
FDA monitors and inspects bottled water products and processing plants under its food safety program. When FDA inspects plants, the Agency verifies that the plant's product water and operational water supply are obtained from an approved source; inspects washing and sanitizing procedures; inspects bottling operations; and determines whether the companies analyze their source water and product water for contaminants.
Americans like bottled water. According to the International Bottled Water Association, bottled water was the second most popular beverage in the U.S. in 2005, with Americans consuming more than 7.5 million gallons of bottled water - an average of 26 gallons per person. Today, only carbonated soft drinks out-sell bottled water.
New types of flavored and/or nutrient-added water beverages have begun to appear in stores and on food service menus. Some are simply bottled water with flavoring, others may also contain added nutrients such as vitamins, electrolytes like sodium and potassium, and amino acids. The bottled water ingredients of these flavored and nutrient-added water beverages must meet the bottled water requirements if the term "water" is highlighted on the label as in, for example, a product named Berry Flavored Spring Water Beverage. In addition, the flavorings and nutrients added to these beverages must comply with all applicable FDA safety requirements and they must be identified in the ingredient list on the label.
U.S. public tap water is regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The EPA is responsible for identifying and setting legal limits for potential contaminants in drinking water under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) (4, 5).
Before it reaches your house, water is stored in a treatment facility in which it undergoes several processes to remove potential contaminants. During disinfection, chemicals may be added to kill off any remaining microbes and protect against germs (3).
A 2018 study tested 11 widely available bottled water products from 9 countries, concluding that 93% of the 259 bottles sampled contained microplastics. This contamination was due in part to packaging and the bottling process itself (18).
In fact, bottled water production in the United States used 4 billion pounds (1.8 billion kg) of plastic in 2016 alone. The energy input required to produce that amount is equal to 64 million barrels of oil (19).
As we continue to advocate for the reduction of plastic use beyond Plastic Free July, the issue of bottled water remains a significant problem to not only the well-being of our environment, but the quality of our health as well.
In the U.S. alone, Americans buy an estimated 50 billion water bottles a year from a growing industry projected to reach $334 billion by 2023. Many consumers purchasing bottled water are presented with the facade of a high quality product. In reality, countless companies are simply filtering municipal water and bottling it! Next time you reach for the bottle of "pure" water, think twice as popular brands may be selling you water contaminated with microplastics and toxic chemicals from their plastic packaging.
Plastic is everywhere. Most of us correlate plastic contamination to the destruction of our environment. According to the EPA, only 8.4% of plastic in the United States was recycled in 2017, but the problem continues to expand into the realm of human health. Recent studies show bottled water containing excessive levels of microplastics - small pieces of plastic debris less than five millimeters in size. According to research conducted by Orb Media, 93% of the 11 bottled water brands sampled, all showed traces of microplastics. The study included companies such as Aquafina and Evian, with Nestle Pure Life having one of the highest levels of contamination. Their research also showed bottled water contained about 50% more microplastics than tap water.
Most bottled water is sold in plastic #1, also known as polyethylene terephthalate (PET). Research shows that PET may be an endocrine disruptor, altering our hormonal systems. Although this type of plastic is BPA free, phthalates in bottles can still seep into your water, especially when exposed to high temperatures or stored for an extended period of time. Some companies, such as Poland Spring, use plastic #7 for their 3-gallon water bottles. This type of plastic contains BPA, which has been banned in countries around the world, including the European Union and China, due to its toxicity. BPA exposure is linked to multiple health effects including fertility issues, altered brain development, cancer, and heart complications. 59ce067264