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The Bottom Line on Bottled Water

By Tiffany Glenn, M.S., R.D.,L.D. Registered Dietitian

Can you go anywhere today and not see someone with a bottle of water?  This surely wasn’t the case 20 years ago.   I’m glad to know that people are taking water with them more often.  However, is bottled water better that what we did 20 years ago?

A study by the Natural Resources Defense Council concluded that bottled water is not safer or healthier than most tap water, both are equally regulated — EPA regulates tap water while bottled water is regulated by FDA.  However, some experts say that bottled water may be better for certain people such as pregnant women, babies, the elderly, people who are immune-compromised and cancer patients.  While contaminants found in some municipal sources won’t bother the average person, some populations may be affected.  Some municipal water systems are as good as bottled waters but you should make the effort to find out for sure.

Municipal water is fluoridated which helps protect teeth.  Most bottled water is not, which can be a concern for children and teens.

The plastic bottles of bottled water may post a hazard to the environment.  Production of bottled water requires more than 1.5 million barrels of oil a year, enough to power 100,000 cars.  86% of plastic bottles in the US end up in landfills vs. recycling.  States are hoping to boost recycling rates and manufacturers now have thinner bottles to reduce the amount of plastic. Individuals also are buying bulk containers or water filters for tap water.

Another issue is the potential risk from a chemical in some plastics called bisphenol A or BPA. The American Chemistry Council, manufacturers of plastic products, has launched efforts to reinforce the safety of BPA in low doses.

One factor to consider when assessing the difference between tap and bottled water is the expense. A New York Times reporter calculated that eight glasses of New York City tap water would cost about 49 cents per year. Bottled water would be 2,900 times as much or $1,400 per year.

The taste of tap water may differ in various parts of the country. Some people simply prefer the taste of bottled water, or they find themselves drinking more water if they can choose flavored bottled waters.

Bottled and tap water are equally safe with similar regulatory oversight. Unless fortified, bottled water offers no significant nutritional advantage and the excessive use may have a negative impact on the environment. On the other hand, the increased availability of bottled water has helped encourage greater consumption of water, typically at the expense of sugary beverages, which is a positive trade-off.

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By Tiffany Glenn, M.S., R.D.,L.D. Registered Dietitian
Categories:  Kid's Health & Safety

About the Author

Tiffany Glenn, M.S., R.D.,L.D. Registered Dietitian

Tiffany Glenn, M.S., R.D.,L.D. Registered Dietitian

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