Bottled Water Is Not Always As Clean As Advertised - In Fact,
It is Seldom if Ever Completely Pure and Uncontaminated!
First we will cover some minor problem areas.
[contamination by commonly tested and regulated substances]
Then we will briefly address an even bigger problem area.
All Bottled Water Coolers are a prime place for bacteria growth. Most Bottled Water Coolers are never sterilized and seldom stay sterile for very long if they are. But if the Bacteria does not bother you then the toxic chemicals should.
[Perhaps the greatest problem is the plastic containers in which bottled water is commonly transported and sold: "Bisphenol A is one of the most commonly used plastic materials in food and beverage containers. This is a ubiquitous chemical ... at least in the developed world. It is one of the top 50 chemicals in production." ]
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Bottled water may be all the rage with health-conscious consumers, but a new U.S. study released indicates it is not necessarily any healthier than most water taken directly from the tap.
The study, by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), looked at 103 brands of domestic and imported bottled water available in the United States. It found that in at least one sample, 33 percent of the tested brands exceeded bacterial-purity guidelines used by the industry, state-purity standards, or in some cases both.
"Just because water comes from a bottle doesn't mean it's any cleaner or safer than what comes from the tap," Erik Olson, NRDC's senior attorney and the report's lead author, said in a statement.
The NRDC said sales of bottled water have tripled in the last 10 years in the United States, in part due to advertising that hinted, sometimes misleadingly, that the water comes from pure sources such as springs.
"In fact, the study shows that between 25 and 40 percent of bottled waters are repackaged municipal tap water which may or may not have been subjected to additional treatment," the report said.
"People can drink what they want, but if they are going to spend up to 10,000 times more per gallon for bottled water as opposed to what comes from the tap, they have a right to know what's in the water, where it's from, and that it's absolutely pure," Olson said.
The International Bottled Water Association (IBWA), representing an industry that sells Americans an estimated 3.4 billion gallons (12.8 billion liters) of bottled water each year, dismissed the NRDC report as an attempt to "scare consumers." "For the past 37 years ... there have been no confirmed reports in the U.S. of illness or disease linked to bottled water," the IBWA said in a statement, noting that a raft of both internal and external safeguards exist aimed at guaranteeing product purity.
The NRDC study did find that most of the water tested was relatively free of contaminants and was of high quality, posing no threat to healthy people. But it also found that bacteria in a small amount of bottled water samples could prove a risk to people with weakened immune systems such as AIDS patients, the elderly, or people undergoing chemotherapy treatment.
The four-year study was conducted by three independent laboratories, using tests approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Using California's health-based limits for contamination, which are the strictest in the United States, the study found that 22 percent of tested brands violated those limits in at least one sample, most commonly by containing arsenic or synthetic organic compounds. Some 17 percent of the tested brands contained, in at least one sample, more bacteria than allowed under purity guidelines used by the industry, while 4 percent of tested brands violated federal contamination standards in at least one sample .
The NRDC, a national organization based in New York, found that safety rules governing bottled water are often less stringent than those in place for public tap water, allowing bottled brands to get by with small amounts of E. coli or fecal coliform contamination, and to be sold to the public untested for parasites such as Cryptosporidium.
"Surprisingly, bottled water is essentially regulated on the honor system in most states," Olson said, noting that there were no testing requirements, no requirements for notification when standards are violated, and no requirement for public disclosure of known contaminants.
The NRDC recommended that the FDA set strict limits for contaminants in bottled water, and that these limits be applied to all bottled water distributed in the United States, both carbonated and noncarbonated.
It also called on the government to place new emphasis on cleaning and guaranteeing the nation's tap-water supply, noting that much of the appeal of bottled water stems from public concern over the safety of traditional drinking water supplies.
"The long-term solution to our water woes is to fix our tap water so it is safe for everyone, and tastes and smells good," the report concluded.
Now we will briefly address an even bigger problem area: Toxic Chemicals. With over 80,000 toxic chemicals currently identified in public water sources, Don't you think it's about time to get a water processor made to filter out the undesirable chemicals?
[Perhaps the greatest problems are in the Plastic containers which bottled water is transported and sold.]
Plastic has been in use for many years, but it has not been publicly known that all plastics containers leach high levels of toxic contaminates into the water and other substances that they come into contact with.
The worst of these is PVC [poly vinyl chloride]. Currently many bottled water companies use cheap PVC plastic to store and transport the water in. Many homes and the water systems that deliver the water to them are piped with PVC plastic. The best [leach the fewest & lowest levels of toxic chemicals] common plastics are PET and PEP, they are also some of the most expensive. When profit is the name of the game, what kind of plastic do you think the bottled water companies will use? MiraculeWater's systems are assembled from only the highest grades of PET and PEP plastic certified to be manufactured from FDA approved food grade materials. The componets do cost a little more, but we build our water machines for Maximum Quality, not maximum profit!
There are an assortment of undesirable chemicals leached from most plastics, here we will only briefly look at one such chemical. It is by no means the only one, it should be enough to give you an idea of the dangers.
[some recent important studies of bisphenol A]
"...aneuploidy in humans causes spontaneous miscarriages and some 10-20% of all birth defects, including Down Syndrome, this implicates bisphenol A in a broad range of human developmental errors..." Scientific studies have also indicated that it causes or may be linked to...proliferation of prostate cancer & other prostate problems...human obesity epidemic...breast cancer...speeds the pace of sexual development. "Bisphenol A is one of the most commonly used plastic materials in food containers, in beverage containers. This is a ubiquitous chemical ... at least in the developed world. It is one of the top 50 chemicals in production."
Bisphenol A was invented in the 1930's during the search for synthetic estrogens. The first evidence of its estrogenicity came from experiments in the 1930's feeding BPA to ovariectomised rats (Dodds and Lawson 1936, 1938).
Another compound first synthesized during that era, diethylstilbestrol, turned out to be more powerful as an estrogen, so bisphenol A was shelved... until polymer chemists discovered that it could be polymerized to form polycarbonate plastic.
Bisphenol A is now deeply imbedded in the products of modern consumer society, not just as the building block for polycarbonate plastic (from which it then leaches as the plastic ages) but also in the manufacture of epoxy resins and other plastics, including polysulfone, alkylphenolic, polyalylate, polyester-styrene, and certain polyester resins.
Its uses don't end with the making of plastic. Bisphenol A has been used as an inert ingredient in pesticides (although in the US this has apparently been halted), as a fungicide, antioxidant, flame retardant, rubber chemical, and polyvinyl chloride stabilizer.
These uses create a myriad of exposures for people. Bisphenol A-based polycarbonate is used as a plastic coating for children's teeth to prevent cavities, as a coating in metal cans to prevent the metal from contact with food contents, as the plastic in food containers, refrigerator shelving, baby bottles, returnable containers for juice, milk and water , micro-wave ovenware and eating utensils.
Other exposures result from BPA's use in "films, sheets, and laminations; reinforced pipes; floorings; water main filters; enamels and varnishes; adhesives; artificial teeth; nail polish; compact discs; electric insulators; and as parts of automobiles, certain machines, tools, electrical appliances, and office automation instruments" (Takahashi and Oishi 2000).
BPA contamination is also widespread in the environment. For example, BPA can be measured in rivers and estuaries at concentrations that range from under 5 to over 1900 nanograms/liter. Sediment loading can also be significant, with levels ranging from under 5 to over 100 g/kg (ppb) BPA is quite persistent as under normal conditions in the environment it does not readily degrade (Rippen 1999).
What this all means is that most of your life you are within arm's length or closer to bisphenol A. No wonder the debate over its toxicity is so intense.
Some very important recent scientific studies of Bisphenol A:
An accident in the lab, followed by careful analysis and a series of experiments, reveals that bisphenol A causes aneuploidy in mice at low levels of exposure. Because aneuploidy in humans causes spontaneous miscarriages and some 10-20% of all birth defects, including Down Syndrome, this implicates bisphenol A in a broad range of human developmental errors. Hunt, PA, KE Koehler, M Susiarjo, CA Hodges, A Ilagan, RC Voigt, S Thomas, BF Thomas and TJ Hassold. 2003. Bisphenol A exposure causes meiotic aneuploidy in the female mouse. Current Biology 13: 546-553.
Experiments by researchers at the University of Missouri raise the possibility of widespread contamination of laboratory experiments by bisphenol A. Their results demonstrate that at room temperature significant amounts of this estrogenic substance leach into water from old polycarbonate animal cages. This inadvertent contamination could interfere with experiments designed to test the safety of estrogenic chemicals, and lead to false negatives and conflicting results. Howdeshell, KA, PH Peterman, BM Judy, JA Taylor, CE Orazio, RL Ruhlen, FS vom Saal, and WV Welshons 2003. Bisphenol A is released from used polycarbonate animal cages into water at room temperature. Environmental Health Perspectives doi:10.1289/ehp.5993.
An analysis of the biochemical mechanisms of endocrine disruption suggests why industry has been unable to replicate crucial low-dose impacts of bisphenol A on prostate development. Howdeshell, KA, PH Peterman, BM Judy, JA Taylor, CE Orazio, RL Ruhlen, FS vom Saal, and WV Welshons 2003. Welshons, WV, KA Thayer, BM Judy, JA Taylor, EM Curran and FS vom Saal. 2003. Large effects from small exposures. I. Mechanisms for endocrine disrupting chemicals with estrogenic activity. Environmental Health Perspectives doi:10.1289/ehp.5494
Using new analytical methods, a team of German scientists measured bisphenol A in the blood of pregnant women, in umbilical blood at birth and in placental tissue. All samples examined contained BPA, at levels within the range shown to alter development. Thus widespread exposure to BPA at levels of concern is no longer a hypothetical issue. It is occurring. Schönfelder, G, W Wittfoht, H Hopp, CE Talsness, M Paul and I Chahoud. 2002. Parent Bisphenol A Accumulation in the Human Maternal-Fetal-Placental Unit. Environmental Health Perspectives 110:A703-A707.
At extremely low levels, BPA promotes fat cell (adipocyte) differentiation and accumulation of lipids in a cell culture line used as a model for adipocyte formation. These two steps, differentiation and accumulation, are crucial in the development of human obesity . Hence this result opens up a whole new chapter in efforts to understand the origins of the world-wide obesity epidemic . Masuno, H, T Kidani, K Sekiya, K Sakayama, T Shiosaka, H Yamamoto and K Honda. 2002. Bisphenol A in combination with insulin can accelerate the conversion of 3T3-L1 fibroblasts to adipocytes. Journal of Lipid Research 3:676-684.
In cell culture experiments, BPA at very low (nanomolar levels) stimulates androgen-independent proliferation of prostate cancer cells . This finding is especially important because when prostate tumors become androgen-independent they no longer respond to one of the key therapies for prostate cancer . Wetherill, YB, CE Petre, KR Monk, A Puga, and KE Knudsen. 2002. The Xenoestrogen Bisphenol A Induces Inappropriate Androgen Receptor Activation and Mitogenesis in Prostatic adenocarcinoma Cells. Molecular Cancer Therapeutics 1: 515 524.
BPA causes changes in rat ventral prostate cells that appear similar to events that make nascent prostate tumors in humans more potent: Ramos, JG, J Varayoud, C Sonnenschein, AM Soto, M Muñoz de Toro and EH Luque. 2001. Prenatal Exposure to Low Doses of Bisphenol A Alters the Periductal Stroma and Glandular Cell Function in the Rat Ventral Prostate. Biology of Reproduction 65: 1271 1277.
BPA induces changes in mouse mammary tissue that resemble early stages mouse and human of breast cancer : Markey, CM, EH Luque, M Muñoz de Toro, C Sonnenschein and AM Soto. 2001. In Utero Exposure to Bisphenol A Alters the Development and Tissue Organization of the Mouse Mammary Gland. Biology of Reproduction 65: 1215 1223.
BPA at extremely low levels creates superfemale snails. Oehlmann, J, U Schulte-Oehlmann, M Tillmann and B Markert. 2000. Effects of endocrine disruptors on Prosobranch snails (Mollusca: Gastropoda) in the laboratory. Part I: Bisphenol A and Octylphenol as xenoestrogens. Ecotoxicology 9:383-397.
BPA is rapidly transfered to the fetus after maternal uptake: Takahashi, O and S Oishi. 2000. Disposition of Orally Administered 2,2-Bis(4-hydroxyphenyl) propane (Bisphenol A) in Pregnant Rats and the Placental Transfer to Fetuses. Environmental Health Perspectives
An independently funded, academic laboratory can verify controversial BPA results, even though industry can't: Gupta, Chhanda. 2000. Reproductive malformation of the male offspring following maternal exposure to estrogenic chemicals. Proceedings of the Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine 224:61-68.
Metabolic differences between rats and humans probably mean that humans are more sensitive to BPA than are rats: Elsby, R, JL Maggs, J Ashby and BK Park. 2001. Comparison of the modulatory effects of human and rat liver microsomal metabolism on the estrogenicity of bisphenol A: implications for extrapolation to humans. Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics 297-103-113.
A confirmation of BPA low dose effects, and demonstration that the effects include impacts on estrous cyclicity and plasma LH levels : Rubin, BS, MK Murray, DA Damassa, JC King and AM Soto. 2001. Perinatal Exposure to Low Doses of Bisphenol A Affects Body Weight, Patterns of Estrous Cyclicity, and Plasma LH Levels. Environmental Health Perspectives 109: 675-680.
BPA speeds the pace of sexual development in mice, and causes mice to be obese : Howdeshell, K, AK Hotchkiss, KA Thayer, JG Vandenbergh and FS vom Saal. 1999. Plastic bisphenol A speeds growth and puberty. Nature 401: 762-764.
Study Links Common Plastic to Birth Defects
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A common ingredient used to make plastics such as baby bottles causes birth defects in mice -- defects that could also occur in people, U.S. researchers said on Monday.
They urged more research into the potential effects of bisphenol A, a chemical long criticized by environmentalists as being a hormone disruptor that could cause defects in embryos.
The defects they found, when they occur in humans, can cause miscarriages or mental retardation such as Down Syndrome -- and they seem to be caused at what were considered to be low levels of exposure, the researchers report in the journal Current Biology.
The discovery came by accident, Patricia Hunt and colleagues at Case Western Reserve University in Ohio report.
Her team first noted a higher than normal increase in abnormalities in developing egg cells in female mice.
"We were looking at the processes as cells start to undergo division," Hunt, a geneticist, said in a telephone interview.
"The chromosomes are supposed to line up in an orderly fashion so they can divide in an orderly fashion. What we saw was a tremendous increase in the number of cells in which the alignment of chromosomes in the cells were not orderly at all -- they were very disorderly."
In the mice they were studying this only usually happens 2 percent of the time, but Hunt's team said 40 percent of the eggs were developing these problems.
They spent weeks looking for the cause.
"Nothing turned up. But ... I noticed that the plastic cages looked kind of the worst for wear," Hunt said.
It turned out that a harsh detergent used to clean the cages had broken down the plastic, releasing bisphenol A. Do any of you wash your plastic cups, plates, dishes et cetera? If you do, then you are getting plenty of bisphenol A in your diet.
Hunt's team deliberately exposed mice to small amounts of bisphenol A for short periods of time and found the abnormalities increased again.
CHEMICALS THAT DISRUPT HORMONES
Many labs are studying the effects of bisphenol A and other chemicals that act as endocrine disruptors -- affecting the actions of hormones in the body. Some scientists fear that developing fetuses and young children are especially vulnerable to these effects.
"Pat Hunt hasn't shown damage in fetuses yet, but it has to be a subject of concern," said Fred vom Saal, an expert on the effects of toxins on reproduction at the University of Missouri.
"Bisphenol A is one of the most commonly used plastic materials in food containers, in beverage containers. This is a ubiquitous chemical ... at least in the developed world. It is one of the top 50 chemicals in production."
Hunt, who studies the effects of aging on egg cells and fertility, said she was not even looking for chemical influences. "That's one of the things I think makes our study unusual," she said.
While the study says nothing about the effects of bisphenol A in humans, Hunt said there is reason to believe they would be similar. The changes in the mice cause aneuploidy -- a misalignment of the chromosomes that is seen in human birth defects and miscarriages.
"You don't wait to prove that it does that in people before you take some regulatory action," Vom Saal said, adding that he hopes Congress may now agree to fund more studies on the effects of bisphenol A.
"We are talking about these mice essentially drinking out of old baby bottles," Vom Saal said -- noting that hard plastic containers like bottles start leaching bisphenol A when they begin to look cracked or etched. He urged the chemical industry to make more plastic products that do not contain bisphenol A.