Bottled Water: Public Nemesis

Friday, January 1, 2010

Executive Summary of NRDC Report on Bottled Water, March 1999

bottled water More than half of all Americans drink bottled water; about a third of the public consumes it regularly. Sales have tripled in the past 10 years, to about $4 billion a year. This sales bonanza has been fueled by ubiquitous ads picturing towering mountains, pristine glaciers, and crystal-clear springs nestled in untouched forests yielding absolutely pure water. But is the marketing image of total purity accurate? Also, are rules for bottled water stricter than those for tap water?

Not exactly. No one should assume that just because he or she purchases water in a bottle that it is necessarily any better regulated, purer, or safer than most tap water. NRDC has completed a four-year study of the bottled water industry, including its bacterial and chemical contamination problems. We have conducted a review of available information on bottled water and its sources, an in-depth assessment of Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and all 50 states’ programs governing bottled water safety, and an analysis of government and academic bottled water testing results. We have compared FDA’s bottled water rules with certain international bottled water standards and with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rules that apply to piped tap water supplied by public water systems. In addition, NRDC commissioned independent lab testing of more than 1,000 bottles of 103 types of bottled water from many parts of the country (California, the District of Columbia, Florida, Illinois, New York, and Texas).[Read rest of report]

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