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Is bottled water healthier?

By Rachel Stockton

Ask the average American with an Evian bottle in his or her hand why they pay extra for bottled water, they will likely say it it’s because it’s safer than tap water. In reality, however, this may not be the case.

According to the Environmental Working Group, a non-profit organization dedicated to exposing “threats to human health and environment,” less than 2% of water bottlers disclose pertinent information regarding their water’s source, purification methods and chemical pollutants. The group’s website also states that while tap water is regulated by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), the FDA has jurisdiction over bottled water.

However, CNN is reporting that based on a recent U.S Congressional Report, the agency has “little authority” over regulation of the bottled water industry; hence, the lack of full disclosure on the bottlers’ part. Nneka Leiba, a researcher for EWG tells CNN that the health claims put forth by bottled water companies is “misleading.”

In fact, the Natural Resource Defense Council claims that 25% of all bottled water starts out as . . . (drum roll). . tap water. This, of course, is a far cry from the clear running springs that most people envision their water comes from.

But in reality, bottled water that starts out as tap may be more “reliable,” when it comes to providing water that is pollutant-free. This is due to the fact that municipalities are required to provide public reports regarding its purity; no such requirement is in place for bottled water. Add to that the fact that BPA residue from the plastic used may contaminate the water somewhat, and you have a beverage that may or may not be as “pure” as it claims to be.

This is not to say, however, that the bottled water you drink is necessarily contaminated, it merely means that the manufacturer doesn’t have to disclose whether it is or isn’t.

In order to alleviate any doubt on the part of the consumer, the EWG recommends that health conscious adults use a home purification method, such as Brita.