Make no mistake. Bottled water is big business. And growing at the rate of 10% per year. But is better for you than plain old tap water? That issue is still to be resolved.
Bottled water is also expensive. You pay 240 to 1000 times more for a liter of water. Is it worth that? To a number of people it apparently is. They spend about $4 billion dollars a year on these products.
According to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), bottled water is neither safer nor cleaner than tap water. Bottled water is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration as a food. It is not required to be tested as often as tap water, which is regulated by the Environmental protection agency.
The FDA only regulates imported water or those that cross state lines. Within states, only one in five regulates the purity of bottled water.
Bottled water is tested less frequently than tap water. NRDC found that 22% of 103 waters tested had higher limits of chemical, bacteria, and arsenic than permitted in tap water.
Another surprising thing about bottled water is where it comes from. When you read the label it may say municipal water source or community water system. This means that it is essentially tap water. Ozarka water marked 'drinking' water is from tap water in bottling plants in Hawkins and Henderson counties in Texas. There are some waters from the municipal source in Houston. You have to read the label closely to find out.
Does anyone really need bottled water? Pediatricians in Lubbock recommend that parents use bottled water to make formula but that it is unnecessary after that. If your water source is a well and you are afraid that the fluoride level is too high and may discolor your children's teeth, then it may be good to switch to bottled water with fluoride to protect you children's teeth.
Taste may be another reason to switch to the bottled variety although in a Los Angeles taste test, the tap water fared as well as bottled water at $7 a bottle.
Dasani water is bottled by Coca Cola and called 'purified.' The FDA has some problem with that label since the water does not meet the US Pharmacopoeia standard for purified water. They then add back magnesium, sulfate, and sodium salts to give it flavor. The system they used to 'purify' the water is like many drinking water systems in homes.
What is right for you? It may be a filtering system on the end of your tap for pennies a gallon or it may be some fancy imported water. But just remember that most of what you read about bottled water is marketing a product.