Americans buy over 50 billion water bottles a year, and most of them are made of toxic plastic.
It may be marketed as pure, pristine drinking water, but in reality up to 93 percent of bottles contain harmful microplastics or are tainted with arsenic and other toxic chemicals.
So the next time you reach for a bottle of water, you may want to think twice.
Here’s what you need to know about the health risks of drinking bottled water:
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates bottling plants, making sure they have a process that ensures safe, sanitary water.
In general, the FDA follows the guidelines of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which regulates public tap water and monitors for more than 90 contaminants.
However, each time the EPA sets a new standard for water contamination, the FDA decides whether or not to adopt it and apply it to bottled water.
This means that in some cases, the standards for tap water and bottled water are different.
Unfortunately, toxic contaminants have a track record of slipping through the cracks…
Recent studies show that most bottled water contains high levels of microplastics—teeny-tiny pieces of plastic that are too small to see.
In addition, according to a 2017 study conducted by the non-profit Orb Media, bottled water contains an average of 10.4 microplastic particles per liter.
That’s double the amount of microplastics in tap water!
In the study, the amounts of particles varied from bottle-to-bottle, with some containing literally thousands of pieces. They tested a total of 259 individual bottles from 11 different brands, including big names like Evian, Aquafina and Nestle.
But the most important question is, what do microplastics mean for your health?
Microplastics leech all sorts of toxic chemicals, including polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS)—a group of chemicals that are resistant to water, heat, grease and oil.
There are almost 5,000 different types of PFAS, and the majority of plastic bottles contain a type called polyethylene terephthalate (PET).
PET easily seeps into the water, especially when bottles are exposed to high temperatures or stored for long periods of time.
Although most microplastics get excreted by the body, some particles are small enough to pass into the bloodstream and the organs.
Research shows that PFAS may act as endocrine disruptors and cause hormone imbalances in the body.
Even worse, animal studies show that PFAS can cause cancer, birth defects, weakened immunity, liver and kidney damage.
Then of course there’s the notorious bisphenol-a (BPA)—another dirty three-letter word that’s famous for disrupting hormones.
BPA is banned in countries around the world due to its high toxicity, but some companies, like Poland Spring, still use BPA-containing plastic.
Side effects of long-term BPA exposure include:
And if plastic toxins weren’t bad enough, there might be even worse contaminants lurking in your water…
Stay on the lookout for these contaminants as well:
A 2020 study by Consumer Reports tested 47 bottled waters, including 12 carbonated and 35 noncarbonated varieties.
In addition to high levels of PFAS, they also found arsenic.
The results showed that Starkey Spring Water, which was sold at Whole Foods for over five years, contained three times the amount of arsenic of any other brand tested. And this wasn’t the first time that Starkey Spring Water was caught “arsenic-handed”—they were also caught exceeding the federal limit in 2019.
Arsenic is an extremely toxic heavy metal.
Even small amounts can increase the risk of certain cancers and cardiovascular disease, and it’s even been shown to lower IQ scores in children.
Compounds called trihalomethanes may also cause cancer.
According to a 2008 study by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), trihalomethanes were found in four brands of bottled water, including Sam’s Choice and Acadia.
They registered levels two-to-three times greater than the FDA’s limit.
Fortunately, not all bottled water is created equal.
Let’s take a closer look at the different types of bottled water…
The FDA classifies bottled water as water that does not contain added ingredients.
Furthermore, beverages labeled “seltzer water,” tonic water,” soda water,” sparkling water” and “club soda” are not considered bottled water. Instead, they’re categorized as soft drinks under the FDA’s regulations.
Brands market their water according to the source and method of purification, but a lot of the time it’s just glorified tap water.
Here’s some of the most common types of bottled water:
Spring water comes from underground water that flows naturally to the surface.
It may also be collected through a borehole in the ground as long as the water has the same quality and mineral composition as the water that naturally flows to the surface.
In the United States, spring water must contain at least 250 parts per million (ppm) of total dissolved solids (minerals).
Mineral water is essentially the same as spring water, except that it is only accessible from underground.
Just like spring water, it contains naturally occuring minerals and trace elements.
Both spring and mineral water cannot be treated with extra minerals and must be ready to drink at the source.
In the United States, mineral water must have at least 250 parts per million (ppm) of total dissolved solids (minerals).
Artesian well water is essentially mineral water that doesn’t have enough naturally occuring minerals to make the cut.
It comes from an underground aquifer, which is basically groundwater that is trapped beneath the earth and can only be accessed through a water well.
When the well taps into the aquifer, the natural water pressure pushes the water towards the surface.
However, if there isn’t enough natural pressure, other methods can bring it to the surface.
Distilled water is boiled, turned into vapor, and then condensed back into water again.
However, the distillation process removes all minerals and microbes that may have been living in the water.
Due to the lack of essential mineral content, it’s best not to drink distilled water very often.
Reverse osmosis (RO) filtration removes contaminants by forcing pressurized water through a semipermeable membrane.
Furthermore, the small pores block contaminants and allow pure water to flow to the other side.
Most bottled water companies filter with reverse osmosis because it efficiently removes 99.9% of harmful pollutants and pathogenic organisms.
Alkaline water is slightly basic (not acidic) water that has a pH of roughly 8 to 9.
Most bottled alkaline water is alkalized by passing electricity through it rather than by adding healthy minerals.
In addition, early research shows that alkaline water may improve sleep in patients with gastrointestinal symptoms.
In the end, tap water is the healthier option.
Compared to bottled water, tap water suppliers undergo more frequent testing and have stricter guidelines enforced by the EPA.
Bottled water corporations, on the other hand, do not have to conduct frequent lab tests or inform consumers about where their water is coming from.
This means that bottled water isn’t always the safest choice, especially when you throw microplastics into the mix.
The biggest benefit of drinking tap water is that you can install an in-home reverse osmosis system and turn your tap into a toxin-free oasis.
In fact, Cloud Water Filters even remineralize your water with key electrolytes like magnesium and calcium.
Plus, you get to help save the environment by reducing global plastic consumption.
Click here to learn more about installing a Cloud Water Filter in your home.