What in the Water Is Going on?!

By Heather Gurecki

Do you ever wonder how water differs from company to company? Have you ever noticed the variety of smells water seems to have? From Dasani’s sweet flavor to your favorite breakfast places pungent smell of tap, what exactly is the difference, and why does it matter?

H2O is H2O, that’s as simple as it gets. But bottle water isn’t just H2O, it’s fluoride, plastic, chloride, arsenic (poison)…wait what? That’s right you heard me, bottled water is loaded with ingredients other than good old water and I’m here to make sure you get the purest H2O out there. First thing’s first, the guidelines regulating bottled water aren’t as strict as tap water. That means you could be buying bottled water under the false pretense that it is healthier than the free water you have at home (yikes).

Back to the arsenic situation, the FDA allows up to .05 milligrams of arsenic per liter in bottled water. What’s even scarier? The FDA allows “dissolved solids”, and up to 500 milligrams per liter at that! Your guess is as good as mine as to what exactly those “dissolved solids” are. Small amounts of radioactive material are also allowed, such as radium and uranium. These are by no means the cut off for ingredients either, if bottled water does not meet these standards a simple label can be applied to the bottle such as “Contains Excessive Bacteria”, yum! More information on the regulations of bottled water can be found at www.banthebottle.net.

Is tap water looking like a healthier alternative? Well don’t get too comfortable, remember Flint, Michigan? Contaminated water has colossal effects. There are a few issues with the tap water system, one being the fact that they haven’t updated the list of contaminants to test for since 2001. Even though fluoride and chlorine are added purposely, other chemicals find their way into our tap water by leaking in through soil or entering waterways from industrial grounds. Even so, fluoride at the recommended level has shown to lower immunity.

If you do find yourself needing to buy a bottled water, Fiji and Evian are among the best you can buy, safe from fluoride and chlorine, and definitely arsenic.

Poland springs on the other hand, you can be sure to find cyanide and mercury in every bottle. Water companies have a funny way of disclosing less and less information every year. 32 percent of brands provide no information on water treatment, and 13 percent have “water quality" reports that lack actual data.

After a lawsuit, A Nestle Waters representative says the water meets all relevant federal and state regulations for bottled water. But as we know, these regulations are hardly healthy.

What’s a safe alternative? A water filter and a reusable bottle.

I have a Berkey water filter next to my sink that I fill with water every few days. It has different attachments for different chemicals and has very high ratings for filtering water. It has a top container you fill with tap water, and it filters down into the bottom container. When I lift the cover to fill it a strong odor of chlorine, and memories from my grandma’s pool fill my senses. The thought of drinking a chemical that can turn blonde hair to green just isn’t appealing to me.