Is Bottled Water as Safe as We’re Told? Poland Spring Faces Lawsuit, Keurig Dr Pepper Pulls Bottled Water Off Shelves

Big Water Companies are Bottling Up More Than Just Water

Companies like Poland Spring have long brandished their fresh, naturally sourced spring water as the heart of their brands, a message literally stamped onto their bottles in crisp mountain peaks and streaming hillside waterfalls. Many of us willingly pick up the premium on these bottles with the certainty that they contain safe and clean drinking water. However, recent investigations reveal that we may just be fooling ourselves.

Poland Spring has recently come under attack for marketing common groundwater as spring water, allegedly sourcing its product from man-made pools kept up to comply with F.D.A. spring water standards. An ongoing lawsuit contends that these pools are located near waste-dumps and other currently or formerly toxic sites, possibly contaminating their product. These claims have yet to be court proven, but nonetheless serve as wake up calls for reevaluating our supposedly safe water sources. 

In another concerning stroke, Keurig Dr Pepper recently pulled its Peñafiel unflavored mineral spring water off the shelves due to alarmingly high levels of arsenic found in the product. Arsenic, a naturally occurring chemical found at low levels in virtually all drinking water, is authorized at 10 parts-per-billion (ppb) or less in water sources approved by the EPA. However, like other federally regulated chemicals, the element still proves toxic in amounts lower than 10 ppb, especially in children. Joseph Graziano, Ph.D., a professor of environmental health sciences at Columbia University, found that an arsenic level of 5 ppb or greater in a child’s household water supply was associated with a 5- to 6-point reduction in IQ compared with those whose exposure to arsenic levels is below 5 ppb.

I know what you’re thinking; I’m the first to scoff at dramatic correlations, but unfortunately the threatening of children’s health due to sub-par federal regulations is no unfamiliar trend. Similar correlations have been found with lead levels in tap water, leading to public health crises in places such as Newark and Flint. 

How Much Plastic Are We Really Recycling?

Have you ever thrown out your recycling bag at the end of the week, pleased at your own environmental savvy and sure that your efforts will contribute to the survival of the planet? Okay, maybe you don’t have such a gut-pleasing reaction to garbage, but nonetheless it seems like recycling bins have absolved us all of any guilt that would normally come along with using so much plastic. As long as we toss our bottles into those bright blue bins, we think, there is no issue with using that reliable, synthetic material to which we’ve all become so accustomed. But in reality, only about 25 percent of the plastic produced in the U.S. is recycled, and the rest fills up landstores and depletes oil supplies as we produce more than we reuse. 

Additionally, much of the plastic waste we produce ends up in oceans or other bodies of water, contaminating marine environments and harming organic life. National Geographic reported that about 8 million metric tons of plastic ends up in the oceans every year. If not the ocean, much plastic waste is dumped in poorly managed landfills or open-air dumps, usually in poorer regions of the world. Below is a chart displaying the amount of waste mismanaged by regions around the globe, leading to ocean contamination and pollution. East Asia and other Pacific regions do not effectively handle about 60% of their waste, and even Europe and North America’s numbers are higher than they should be when the technology to control waste is readily available. 

Why Landfills are Poor Solutions to Waste

What’s the problem with landfill? Many materials that end up as waste eventually leach toxins into our soil and groundwater. The worst of these toxins is leachate, a liquid formed when water passes through degraded waste. This liquid collects at the base of the landfill and usually contains high levels of toxic metals, ammonia, toxic organic compounds and pathogens. Leachate often leaks into the groundwater that is eventually used to source taps, and many municipal treatment systems do not reliably purify the water. Ironically, once the bottles becomes waste, the bottled water we obtain in order to avoid contaminated tap water is one of the things contaminating that very water as the plastic sits in landfills and leaches toxins into the soil. 

Clearly, the U.S. has a long way to go when it comes to recycling effectively, and with China’s recent restriction on importing recyclable U.S. trash, the task is only proving more difficult. This leads us to our final and most effective solution in the search for clean drinking water: tap-sourced water filtration. Click here to learn more about this process and to ensure your and your planet’s well being. 

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