WHAT IT MEANS: Bottled water companies are using money and marketing muscle to convince people that their products are better than what flows freely from your tap. After all, your tap water doesn’t advertise itself as “cool,” “crisp,” or “perfect.” In fact, bottled water isn’t regulated as strictly as tap water, and that, says Nneka Leiba, MPH, environmental health researcher at EWG, puts consumers at a disadvantage. “Standards for one should not be unfairly more relaxed,” she says, “especially considering that people pay 1900 times more [for bottled].” Tap water, which is regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), is required to be tested daily, weekly, and even hourly for certain contaminants, and municipal suppliers are legally required to disclose the test results to the public. Bottled water manufacturers, on the other hand, don’t have to disclose contaminant levels, or even whether the water undergoes additional treatments. And without their disclosing the exact source of the water, you can’t protect yourself from buying water that may have come from a water source vulnerable to pollution, the report’s authors note.
EWG scientists testified before Congress last week in the hopes of changing that. “It’s really about bottled water companies being transparent about where they are getting [their water], what they are doing to it, and if they are making the information available to consumers,” says Leiba.
Published on: July 15, 2009