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Bottled Water Not as Safe as Tap Water, says GAO

Posted Jul 08 2009 9:18pm

Water sold in plastic bottles is not as safe as tap water because bottled water is allowed to be contaminated by chemicals that cause "reproductive difficulties, liver problems, and cancer."

Marketing hype and inadequate labeling entice consumers to buy bottled water even though it is far more expensive and usually not as healthy as tap water.

Bottled water also takes its toll on the environment. At least 3/4 of the millions of plastic water bottles produced each year are thrown away rather than recycled. Plus, producing bottled water actually uses more water and is far more energy intensive than providing the same amount of water to the public via the tap.

These are among the most damning conclusions reached by the U.S. General Accounting Office upon completion of a thorough comparison of the health, safety and environmental benefits of tap vs. bottled water.

The GAO attributes the dangers in bottled water to the fact that it is regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), whose safety requirements are far less stringent than those of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which regulates tap water.  The GAO recommended that the FDA adopt EPA' s requirements within the year.

Consumers should not have to wait a year for plastic water bottles to be safe. Take action now:

* Stop buying bottled water, or any beverage sold in a plastic bottle. Remember the power of the purse: the way you spend your money sends a signal loud and clear to polluters that they will lose market share unless they provide you with safe products and services. 

* Shift to healthier, safer reusable bottles.Aluminum and stainless steel bottles are better, as are  bottles with filters that are free of the chemicals most throwaway water bottles contain.

* Contact manufacturers and tell them to pull bottled water off the market. Just because a company makes a bottle that uses less plastic doesn' t mean that bottle is a good choice.

Throwaway plastic bottles need to go.  

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