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Bottled Water: a costly choice for both your wallet and your health

Posted: May 25, 2011

Staying hydrated is important, especially during periods of physical activity and in warmer weather. With the availability of so many choices, making a decision about the type of water to drink can be challenging.

Choosing water as a beverage choice is a no brainer--it's easily accessible, refreshing, calorie-free and essential for keeping the body healthy. A much harder question to answer is determining whether to drink tap water or to buy bottled water. While tap water is available (and free!) almost everywhere, there has been a growing trend in the past decade towards buying bottled water instead. Whether it's for the convenience of carrying a bottle around, or the sophistication of drinking "spring water", Americans are choosing to consume billions of gallons of bottled water per year, a choice that is more expensive per gallon than gasoline (US: Bottled Water vs. Tap, 2008). In most cases, this expensive bottled product is actually coming from municipal water supplies, just like tap water. Aquafina and Dasani, for example, both come from public or local water sources.

Not only is bottled water expensive, but has been proven in some cases to also be a dangerous health choice. While bottled water providers advertise a purified, fresh product, the reality is that these companies are less regulated than municipal water suppliers. Although the FDA oversees bottled water production, it is the responsibility of the manufacturer to ensure that plant practices are safe and sanitary. Because of this lack of supervision in some cases, chemical contaminants and pollutants have gone undetected within the bottled water industry and are just beginning surface. For example, the leaking of phthalates (plastic softening agents) from the bottle in high temperatures can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and neurological damage.

In the end, the choice to drink tap water is a simple one. It is significantly cheaper and safer than drinking the bottled option of water. A suggestion would be to invest in a reusable stainless steal or lined drinking bottle, such as Klean Kanteen or Thinksport, for an inexpensive and portable alternative to bottled water.