Product Reviews from a Scientific Perspective

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

the Danger of Bottled Water

Bottled water comes with an implied guarantee - this water is clean. But is it really?

Yes, the water is probably going to be free of the usual environmental pollutants. Surprisingly, tap water has more pollutants than you might think. For example, a recent study showed that hexavalent chromium, the cancer-causing pollutant in the movie about Erin Brockovich, is actually in pretty high levels across the United States. Stories like these lend a hand to bottled water.

On the other hand, plastic has a polluting effect on its own in water. Plastic actually sheds at the biochemical level, releasing molecules that are similar in shape to estrogen into the water. These molecules are called Bisphenol-A, or BPA. Your body has hormone receptors, which basically touch hormones, and make some activations into the cell. If a hormone is a key to car, then the hormone receptor is the keyhole that can start up your car's engine.

So a molecule that is shaped like the hormone estrogen (but not actually estrogen) is like the paper clip that a thief could use to unlock a lock, or in this case, "start your car." It turns on the machinery without a legitimate reason, after which a disaster ensues.

The problem of plastic pollution releasing these molecules, these estrogen look-alikes, is so bad that amphibians and reptiles are being threatened, as the molecules that look like estrogen is seeping into their bodies. Because amphibians and reptiles are really sensitive to hormones, this causes some males to become infertile hermaphrodites, turns baby males into females, or some strange combination that prevents them from reproducing properly. 

Human beings are in danger of this pollution, as well. Girls in modern nations are starting puberty earlier and earlier. In fact, 1% of American girls are showing signs of puberty at the age of three. The plastic molecules are tricking their bodies into thinking that it's time for puberty! The website is a website dedicated to the problems of plastic pollution, and their most recent article, Pink Washing the Dangers of Bottled Water, is about the hypocrisy of the famous Susan G. Komen for the Cure of breast cancer and their connection with bottled water. There's been a strong correlation with high estrogen and breast cancer. So you can see why plastic water bottles could actually "cause cancer."

In addition, bottled water typically lacks the minerals found in natural water. Your body, believe it or not, needs a lot of minerals that you won't get from most foods. Zinc, copper, chromium, even gold is needed by your body in small amounts. You'll be hard pressed to find those things outside of natural water. In fact, dental research demonstrates that people who drink water with these kinds of minerals have much healthier teeth.

So is bottled water worth the cost? I honestly can't really say. Certainly if your tap water is polluted, whether you're in some "third-world" country where you're not used to the bacteria there, or it's a chemical pollutant, bottled water becomes a necessity. You could also invest in a water filter if you're really concerned (looks like some are being advertised on the google-ads on this blogpost anyway. One claims to get rid of "97.7% of chromium"). Outside of pollution, it makes more financial and health sense to avoid water bottles.

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