Thursday, June 11, 2009

Toxic Bottled Water

Years ago I would complain loudly when traveling and stopping for a cold drink, only to find no choice but a sweetened soda. “WHY doesn’t someone bottle just plain ole' water?” And a few years later someone finally did, and bottled water became a major industry.

Now, along comes research showing the dangers of plastic bottles for water (definitely from the containers, and maybe even from the water before going in some of the containers). The bottles are so dangerous that they are considering not recycling those PET bottles anymore. Personal re-use of those bottles is an unhealthy thing to do too; in fact, it's as bad as leaving a bottle of water in a hot car all day causing the toxic chemicals leach out at a rapid rate. Taste the water in a new, unopened bottle of water that's been sitting in your hot car all day... you'll know!

Buying bottled water at the grocery store or a quick-stop was now ou
t of the question, but how about getting water delivered in polycarbonate jugs like offices use? I heard polycarbonates supposedly shed very few toxins, and there are almost no other options. (When is the last time you saw water for sale in a 5 gallon glass jug?)

Many water supply places use a Reverse Osmosis (RO) system to provide clean water in polycarbonate jugs, achieved by forcing water under high pressures through a membrane. Before I moved here, I had been filling my own 3 gallon polycarbonate bottles with RO drinking water at natural food stores, for around 40¢ a gallon.

I should have known better, but it was all I knew at the time. Today's RO membranes filter out most of the mineral salts, including those necessary for good health. Not a really good idea. Interestingly enough, Kohler will not warranty their faucets if they are used with a RO system; the RO water eats the metal in the faucets. It also is now known that polycarbonate jugs leach endocrine disrupters like BPA into the contents. More Yucko!

There are few alternatives, either. Some companies still make stainless steel vacuum jugs, and recently some start-up green companies are marketing food grade stainless steel travel bottles in many sizes, even sippy cups for the kids. Glass is seldom used to bottle anything anymore, although I do find milk to buy in returnable glass jugs from a nearby dairy, and I recently purchased ginger ale in throw-away glass bottles. (Those ginger ale bottles will get sterilized and re-used, probably for herb vinegars.)

Do the best you can to avoid drinking from plastic soda bottles anytime, but specifically those bottles that have been in a hot car interior, or even sitting out in the hot sun. An investment of a few dollars for re-usable stainless steel bottles will pay for itself in just weeks, and the health benefits will be a continual payback for the rest of your life.

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