Water is a transparent fluid that makes up the world's streams, rivers, lakes, oceans, and rain, and above all, it is the principal constituent of fluids of living things. For instance, it makes up 70% of the human body. Water covers about 70% of the earth's surface and is vital for all known forms of life. Safe drinking water is essential to humans, as it does not contain any calories or organic nutrients. It is critical for helping nourish the body cells, taking part in metabolic reactions, reducing friction, stabilizing body temperature, and removing body toxins. Access to safe drinking water has improved over the years in almost every part of the world. In most developed countries, tap water is supplied to households, commerce, and industry meets the water quality portability standards.
Over the years, there has been growth in bottling drinking water, as many industries have sprung up, packaging water mostly in plastic bottles, and these are said to be treated and safe for drinking. But how safe for consumption are these bottled water? Bottled water is now causing an alarm across the continents, as there are concerns this water might not be as safe for drinking as initially assumed. In this post, I will try to prove this notion that bottled water should be done away with, for it is more of a health hazard than it is safe for consumption.
People buy bottled water for many reasons, including taste convenience, poor tap water quality and safety concerns, and as a substitute for sugary drinks. The container safety, environmental impact, water origin, emergency supplies, and role of the water industry have continued to be the areas of most concern to many people (Eshleman, 2007).
Evocative names and labels depicting pastoral scenes have more than convinced us that the liquid in the bottle is the safest and purest water to drink. However, no one should think that bottled water is better regulated, better protected, or even safer than tap water. The majority of bottled water comes from sparkling springs and other pristine sources; a good amount also comes from a municipal supply. Such water is then treated, purified, and sold to the people at a thousand fold increase in price (Gleick, 2010). However, most people are surprised to learn that they drink glorified tap water, as many of them had initially thought that the w3atwee they drink comes from unique places. It is a pity that most of this water is drained from the taps where the people also get the water for cooking and other household usages, yet this water is sold to them at a very exuberantly high price. For instance, in the United States, tap water has its quality controlled by Environmental Protection Agency, ensuring that all available public water should be safe to drink, odorless, noncorrosive, soft, clear, and good tasting (Mackey, 2004). It is therefore pointless that people have to buy this water in bottles at very high prices if they can get the same from the taps and, in the process, save much money.
Most people drink tap and bottled water, as they understand the importance of drinking plenty of water. What these people don't know, however, is the fact that some of these bottled water is not as pure as they expect. The NRDC in 1999 tested more than 1000 bottles of water from 103 brands to ascertain that they indeed were safe for drinking. As much as finding out that most of the water was indeed safe, the organization also found out that at least a sample of a third of the brands contained either bacterial or chemical contaminants, which included carcinogens, which were in levels exceeding state or industry standards (Mackey, 2004). Since publishing the report, not much has been done concerning the regulatory changes, and the bottler has not altered its bottling procedures. The risk is, therefore, still likely to be there. The bottlers do not have to necessarily tell the consumers that their products are contaminated, for that would definitely kill their business (Mackey, 2004). However, it is imperative that once it is thought that the water might be contaminated, they should pull their products from the stores and protect the people from such hazards.
The most dominant issue on this topic is whether the water bottles themselves are safe to drink from. Most of the bottled water comes in polyethylene terephthalate bottles, which are generally safe. However, scientists have insisted that when stored in hot or warm temperatures, the plastic may leach chemicals into the water, which will make the water more of a health hazard than a lifesaver. It is not only the high temperatures that are hazardous to the bottled water; the things kept alongside the water also matter a lot in knowing whether the water is safe for drinking. Experts have warned against the storage of water in garages, near gas fumes, pesticides as well as other chemicals which could, at the very least, affect the taste and smell of the water (Senior, 1998). As can be seen, these concerns only come with bottled water, which is portable and therefore can be carried everywhere.
What one does with the bottled water also matters a lot concerning its safety? Many people usually find themselves sipping water from a bottle that has been sitting in a hot car, a move that is quite dangerous. Experts have warned that leaving the water out in the vehicle alters t5he chemical equilibrium so that the materials from the plastic go into the water faster. For instance, scientists from Germany have found out that the longer a water bottle stays around, the more antimony it develops. High concentrations of antimony can cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea (Mackey, 2004). Therefore, it is generally not advisable to use water that has stayed either in the stores or homes for long, as they are hazardous health-wise.
The bottled water does not just affect the pope's health using it, but it affects the planet as well. As bottled water is an increasingly growing business, it comes with a lot of environmental impacts 6thta can otherwise be avoided by regulating or otherwise stopping bottled water usage. As the continents try to minimize the consumption of fossil fuels, bottled water increases them. Virgin petroleum is used in the manufacture of PET, which is used to make water bottles. More virgin oil would therefore be needed to create more bottles. Fossil fuels are burned to fill the bottles and distribute them as well. Some of the water brands are situated very far away from the market, and therefore shipping of these bottles can cause carbon pollution, which would be hazardous when it spills onto the water and when it gets into the air. There is also the concern of the waste of water itself. Researchers have inference that it takes at least 72 billion gallons of water a year, all over the world, to make empty bottles (Gleick, 2010). This water could be diverted for some other functional purposes, or even preserved for future consumption, as there is fear worldwide that the water crisis might hit the planet very soon.
Treatment and filtering of tap water for bottling purposes results in even more waste. By estimates from experts, it takes about two liters of water to make every bottle bottled. This process, therefore, creates an environmental burden as the wastes it produces are far much more than the products designed. Many of the bottling companies have introduced the single-serving bottles intending to cut on the usage of water bottles and also to go green, but more needs to be done as most of these bottles still end up being tossed away into the environment as opposed to being taken back for reuse (Senior, 1998). What is the point of having a water bottle whose content would be emptied in about three minutes and then take a thousand years to biodegrade if this can be avoided altogether by doing away with the bottling of water?
Bottled water companies work very hard to protect the environment and play a significant role in promoting plastic recycling containers and groundwater management. They offer active support on the comprehensive groundwater management practices that are science-based, equitably treat all users, and provide more future needs for this critical resource. These companies have encouraged the states to develop comprehensive, science-based groundwater management and sustainability Laws and policies (Dege, 2011). It is therefore understandable that they are trying to make this work through every means possible.
To conclude, it is essential to note that the negative impacts that bottled water has on both the health of the individuals and the environment outweigh the positive effects, the best solution for people to abandon bottled water and go back to safer tap water. Instead of avoiding the tap water for the fear that it might be contaminated, people should ensure that they are regularly served with water-quality reports from the companies that pump the water to monitor the safety of the water. This will save them the much money they spend on the bottled water, but it will also ensure that they control the kind of water they consume.
For those of us who use bottled water, since it is portable and can carry them anywhere they want, it is advisable to instead use plain or distilled tap water in reusable stainless steel or lined drinking containers. Washing such bottles between every usage ensures clean, safe drinking water. It is also safer to choose glass containers over plastic bottles. A healthy people means a healthy, productive nation; it is, therefore, imperative that people are informed of these effects that come with bottled water through government agencies and the remedies provided. It is usually said that "better safe than sorry." Therefore, the people should make it their initiative to keep themselves safe from the dangers that come with bottled water by avoiding them altogether.