On Monday, the Associated Press released a report on the discovery of trace amounts of various types of pharmaceuticals in drinking water around the country.
I got invited to discuss the subject on WNYC's Brian Lehrer Show (go here if you'd like to listen). The conversation quickly turned to bottled water as a possible solution, which it is not.
Here's why bottled water doesn't help, according to Food and Water Watch:
- 40% of the bottled water sold in the United States is tap water anyway.
- The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires hundreds of tests each month on municipal water supplies, but the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which regulates bottled water, requires only one test a week on bottled water.
- Only 40% of bottled water--that which is sold across state lines--is regulated by the FDA in the first place.
- Plastic bottles in the United States require some 1.5 million barrels of oil to manufacture each year--enough to power 100,000 cars.
- 86% of plastic bottles in the United States never get recycled.
- Tap water costs about a penny a gallon and bottled waters costs up to $10 a gallon.
- Chemicals that leach from plastic water bottles may affect our health.
- If people abandon the use of municipal drinking water, then there will be no political will to ensure that we invest the necessary resources in the water infrastructure.
- The United States has some of the best drinking water in the world and we must keep it that way.
The real answer, at least for me, is to:
- Continue drinking tap water. You can contact your local water utility to ask for a copy of your area's Annual Water Quality Report (the EPA keeps many of them here).
- Choose a filter, if necessary, with the help of these Food and Water Watch guidelines.
- Most importantly, ask Congress to provide the funds to keep our water safe.
- Support Food and Water Watch's campaign to create a national Clean Water Trust Fund (similar to the trust fund used to pay for our highways) by clicking here.
Read Food and Water Watch's new report on bottled water here.
Read their argument for a Clean Water Trust Fund here.
Image courtesy of Food and Water Watch.