This morning at the petrol station opposite our temporary office, saw a colleague buying a bottle of mineral water. I know she must be cursing and swearing at me inside. Last week when we first came to this temporary office (safety precaution in view of the H1N1 thingy), I told everybody that we will not be replenishing the stock of bottled water once the stock finishes. So since then some of them have been buying their own bottled notwithstanding that the temp office is a fully furnished office with a pantry, kettle and fridge. Call me kiamsiap or what but why waste money to buy water when it is available freely from the tap?
Bottled water comes in 2 forms – either mineral or purified. First purified water – they are either known as drinking water, purified water or distilled water but whatever it is, the true fact is – it is just plain tap water that has been filtered to remove the chlorine, flouride and other chemicals (purified or distilled water) or worse, just normal tap water (drinking water) repackaged and bottled. So why pay money to drink something that is free?
The other water is spring or mineral water. Apparently, this water comes from mountain springs or rivers and is supposed to contain traces minerals and good for the health. But really has anybody ever seen a really clean river or spring anywhere in the world that you can drink straight from? In all these case, the water from these sources still has to go through a filtration process which means they still come out as distilled water. So why pay a bomb for it?
Okay if money is not an issue and environment concerns is not on the top of one’s priority – here some perfectly good reasons* not to buy bottled water.
1. In a 1999 test, one sample of a third of the 103 brands tested were found to contain bacterial or chemical contaminants including carcinogens in levels exceeding industry standards
2. 2 brands contained phthalates exceeding approved standards. These chemicals used to make plastic softer are found in most products and are endocrine disruptors (meaning they block or mimic hormones) affectng the body’s normal function eg deformed reproductive organs in foetuses, low sperm count etc
3. In 2007, China (yes China) had to block import of water from Europe citing unsafe bacterial levels. Evian one of the brands affected claimed it was a matter of conflicting local and international health regulations. Seriously, I can’t imagine China to have a higher standard than Europe so for China to say the water is no good, something must be seriously wrong here
4. Between 1990 and 2007, bottled waters were recalled about 100 times with the manufactuers citing contaminations with mould, benzene, coliform, microbes and even insects! And these are manufacturers in America who have a higher standard than countries in Asia. So can you imagine the state of the water manufacturing plant in say Indonesia or China?
5. And of course there always the problem with the bottle itself. The manufacturing process of the bottles involves chemcial such as antimony which can cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea; BPA which can cause neurological and behavioural problems in foetuses, babies and kids. Taken over a prolonged period, who can tell what the cumulative effects of these will be?
But of course that is not say I do not drink from bottled water at all. In countries where tap water is unsafe, there is no choice. Likewise when on the move and tap water is not available, then there is not much choice but seriously before reaching for that bottle of water, ask yourself. is there a cheaper, safer alternative nearby and save yourself some money and maybe some hearthache.
*Reader Digest March 2009. Read the full article here (membership required)