There is no other single ingredient that exists in greater abundance in our bodies than water.
About sixty percent of the human body is made up of water. The brain is 70 percent water; blood is 83 percent water; lean muscle tissue is 75 percent water. Even bones — hard, unwieldy bones — are 22 percent water! Babies have the highest water content; an infant is made up of 78 percent water when he or she is born.
Drinking plenty of water every day, whether you’re an adult or a kid, will help keep you healthy, by aiding your system with the absorption of nutrients, as well as the elimination of waste.
Many people are on to the importance of staying properly hydrated. So much so, that an astonishing $100 billion are spent annually by consumers on bottled water globally. Americans consume around 50 billion bottles of water a year.
Why do so many people buy bottled water? In developing countries, where there is no tap water, or the tap water is unsafe, bottled water is a necessity.
Tap Water in the United States
The United States has one of the safest sources of drinking water anywhere. In 1974, Congress passed the Safe Drinking Water Act, which put in place measures to regulate all the water supply and protect its sources.
In the U.S., tap water is cleaned by a three-step process: the removal of dirt and other particulates; filtration to remove clay and other organic matter; and treatment with chlorine or chlorine derivatives, and fluoridation.
The addition of chlorine, which helps kill bacteria, can make tap water taste funny, and make it potentially toxic. And the addition of fluorine, which prevents tooth decay, can also make tap water potentially harmful. Both chlorine and fluoride consumed at high levels are toxic.
Other drawbacks with tap water is that it can pick up pesticides along the way. And aging or rusting water pipes in the home can leach poisonous lead into a household’s water supply.
Aside from the obvious added expense, many environmentalists object to the consumption of bottled water because, as they point out, fossil fuels are burned (and the environment polluted) in the manufacture, transportation and storage of bottled water.
They also point out that more than 80 percent of recyclable plastic water bottles end up in landfills every year. These plastics do not break down quickly, and when they finally do degrade, they release toxic chemicals into the soil.
Many people agree that the cleaner, more pure taste of bottled water makes the extra cost worthwhile; however, from a health standpoint, not all bottled water brands are the same.
The Environmental Working Group conducted an investigation in 2008, which found some bottle waters to be contaminated with untested industrial chemicals; the EWG concluded that some bottled waters are not necessarily cleaner than tap water.
In addition, bear in mind that some bottled water brands, including Aquafina, Dasani, and generic store brands, don’t come from protected wells or springs, but are in fact just filtered tap water.
So, What Should a Smart Consumer Do?
The bottom line seems to be that if you do drink tap water, it would serve you and your family well to invest on a water filtration system, be it carbon filtration, reverse osmosis (the same system many bottled water manufacturers use), or another type. A filtration system will give you peace of mind when it comes to your family’s water consumption needs.
Certain populations, including patients with weakened immune systems, pregnant women, the elderly, and babies and children, will be more sensitive to any toxic chemicals in tap water, and as such, should definitely consume filtered or bottled water.
And if you are a bottled water drinker — do your part to help our Earth and recycle those plastic containers.
By Marc Courtoil