Bottled Water is Not as Safe as Tap Water, says GAO

water2Bottled water is not as safe as tap water because water  bottled in plastic is allowed to be contaminated by chemicals that cause “reproductive difficulties, liver problems, and cancer.”

Marketing hype and inadequate labeling entice consumers to buy bottled water even though it is far more expensive and usually not as healthy as tap water.

Bottled water also takes its toll on the environment. At least 3/4 of the millions of plastic water bottles produced each year are thrown away rather than recycled. Plus, producing bottled water actually uses more water and is far more energy intensive than providing the same amount of water to the public via the tap.

These are among the most damning conclusions reached by the U.S. General Accounting Office upon completion of a thorough comparison of the health, safety and environmental benefits of tap vs. bottled water.

The GAO attributes the dangers in bottled water to the fact that it is regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), whose safety requirements are far less stringent than those of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which regulates tap water. The GAO recommended that the FDA adopt EPA’s requirements within the year.

Consumers should not have to wait a year for plastic water bottles to be safe.

Take action on bottled water now:

* Stop buying bottled water, or any beverage sold in a plastic bottle. Remember the power of the purse: the way you spend your money sends a signal loud and clear to polluters that they will lose market share unless they provide you with safe products and services.

* Shift to healthier, safer reusable bottles. Aluminum and stainless steel bottles are better, as are bottles with filters that are free of the chemicals most throwaway water bottles contain.

* Contact manufacturers and tell them to pull bottled water off the market. Just because a company makes a bottle that uses less plastic doesn’t mean that bottle is a good choice.

Throwaway plastic bottles need to go.

Note: You can find more reusable water bottle options in our store. We earn a tiny commission on our store purchases; all our recommendations are based on our determination that the items suggested offer a cleaner, greener, safer alternative to what you may currently be using. Thanks.

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11 Responses to Bottled Water is Not as Safe as Tap Water, says GAO

  1. Beth Terry, aka Fake Plastic Fish July 8, 2009 at 4:55 pm #

    Amen! Thanks for posting this, Diane. I’m glad you mentioned all other beverages sold in plastic bottles. We don’t need any of them.

  2. Jennifer Taggart, TheSmartMama July 8, 2009 at 3:41 pm #

    I’ve been telling people for years that setting aside the environmental impacts of plastic bottles and transporting water (and that’s a big concern), it still doesn’t make sense to drink it because while the FDA basically follows the same (but not exact) guidelines as the EPA, it doesn’t have the same rigorous testing requirements or the hammer of enforcement. It is nice now to have the GAO’s report to use as “proof” for those that need it.

  3. Brandie July 8, 2009 at 8:27 pm #

    Thanks for the info! I’ve linked it up over at =)

  4. Green Fundraising Ideas July 10, 2009 at 4:37 am #

    I LOVE THAT EVERYONE IS TALKING ABOUT THIS AROUND THE BLOGGING WORLD!!! AMEN! Let it be heard loud and clear. I hope we all keep talking about it so people start to understand they really don’t need bottled water in their life at all! Thanks for talking about it here.

  5. Pathfinder July 10, 2009 at 7:57 am #

    Great post I especially found it both educational and most useful.

  6. Sommer @greenmom July 10, 2009 at 5:23 pm #

    I hope this catches on. For people that buy the bottled water I hope they begin to realize that it isn’t as safe, eco-friendly and it just doesn’t make sense. Changing a habit is never easy but this is an easy habit to break! Thanks for the great post Diane!

  7. Diane MacEachern July 12, 2009 at 7:10 pm #

    Thanks for all your comments. Let’s use our purse and buy something other than beverages bottled in plastic. That’s one sure way to get the attention of the manufacturers.

  8. Living La Vida Verde July 17, 2009 at 10:46 pm #

    I started selling glass water bottles on my green website as an alternative to bottled water when I realized how commonplace this wasteful practice has become! I hate to admit that I was caught up in the bottled water fad and it’s sad to realize how many people still are. Everywhere you look these bottles and cans are being used for a few minutes and then added to our landfills. People don’t mean to be so wasteful, we just don’t THINK about it. Our society is so wasteful and we need to make the small steps now to ease us into a more efficient and green lifestyle for the future. for the bottles I mentioned and green articles.

  9. water bottle August 3, 2010 at 4:20 am #

    Tap water is safer as long we all remember to clean our reusable water bottles regularly 🙂 We sell water bottles and have had some very icky bottles returned with people complaining that the bottle “smells funny” etc. Actually, the problem is that they never allow them to dry and hence mould starts breeding inside – eek! So please everyone, to make your bottles safe, clean your water bottle out everyday and leave them to dry out completely upside down at least once a week. Happy drinking.

  10. Rob Feckler February 13, 2012 at 9:07 am #

    Access to clean drinking water is the right of everybody. Consumers also have the right to know the real deal about plastic bottles and BPA. In the long run, it is all about providing people with good information in order for them to make the right choices.

  11. Diane MacEachern February 16, 2012 at 8:38 am #

    You’re absolutely right, Rob. Thanks for sharing your perspective.

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