IBWA Settles Multiple Lawsuits

As we know from previous posts, the International Bottled Water Association has made multiple efforts to save face in the wake of environmentalist criticism. Two recent lawsuits, one against Eco Canteen, and one against ZeroWater, may be the organization’s most desperate attempts yet. In fact, these might even deserve a spot next to Nestle Waters as some of the most ridiculous lawsuits of all time.

IBWA has accused both companies of making “false and misleading claims” in their advertisements. These include the claim that plastic bottles contain harmful chemicals like BPA that leech into water, or that bottled water is unsafe and the act of recycling single-use bottles releases toxic substances into the environment. IBWA was victorious in its lawsuit against Eco Canteen, a distributor of reusable, stainless-steel water bottles. ZeroWater, maker of a 5-stage ion exchange water filter, has agreed to settle peacefully by retracting any and all false claims.

Perhaps the IBWA simply can’t handle all of the bad press it has received from bottled water critics – which could explain their recent back-to-back release of several online videos that advocate bottled water as a “safe and healthy alternative.” While it is certainly an alternative to less healthy sugary beverages, some might argue that the presentation of bottled water as “safe and healthy” in and of itself is just as “false and misleading” as some of the advertising claims made by the defendants in both lawsuits. A quick glance at our list of the “Top 10 Most Disturbing Things in Our Water” reveals that not all bottled water is as “safe and healthy” as  companies claim. (Pay special attention to #5 and #1 on this list, and you’ll see what we mean.)

In defense of the IBWA, it is true that the claims made by ZeroWater and Eco Canteen were indeed misleading. Though BPA and phthalates are used in the manufacture of many reusable plastic bottles, they are not contained in the single-use varieties.  Moreover, not all bottled water is unsafe or unhealthy, and it is certainly healthier than soda. Still, we can’t discount the negative environmental effects of the tons of plastic waste that go unrecycled each year – of which, single-use plastic water bottles are a part (albeit small). Nor can we ignore the ridiculous costs associated with this supposedly more convenient product. Bottled water is expensive, and in many cases is nothing more than purified tap water – a natural commodity that can easily be obtained from the kitchen sink with the use of a faucet water filter, or a reverse osmosis filter, if you’re looking for more advanced filtration. It’s not rocket science; mere common sense will persuade the average consumer that filtered tap water is a safe alternative that is both tasty and eco-friendly.

Frankly, such desperation on the part of the IBWA just makes me sad. Who’s next? Annie Leonard?

BPA Found in Store Receipts

If you’ve kicked the bottled water habit and stopped eating canned foods to eliminate your exposure to BPA, it may not be sufficient to stop there, according to a recent study that found large amounts of this toxic chemical  in store receipts. The Environmental Working Group collected 36 receipts and commissioned the University of Missouri Division of Biological Sciences laboratory to find out just how much BPA was in them. The results revealed that the amount of BPA in thermal paper receipts is between 0.8 to 3 percent by weight – 250 to 1,000 times greater than the amount found in water bottles or canned food. Moreover, a “wipe test” revealed that 2.4 percent of the BPA wipes off easily and can penetrate the skin to the point where it can’t be washed off. Washing also requires caution, as alcohol-based cleaners can increase the skin’s BPA absorption according to one recent study.

Thermal papers are coated with  a dye and a developer, which is usually BPA or some other chemical. The heat from thermal printers causes a reaction between the dye and the developer, allowing the black print to appear. Since most retailers use thermal paper for receipt printing, in general, retail workers have 30 percent more BPA in their bodies than other adults.

The good news is, sixty percent of the receipts collected by the EWG did not contain BPA. This is because not all retailers use thermal paper that contains it. Whether they do or not, consumers can always be safe by opting out of a receipt upon purchase.

Top 10 Most Disturbing Things in Our Water

What’s in your water? We at Filters Fast have compiled a list of the top ten most disturbing things found in tap and bottled water. Some of these may surprise you.

#10 – Chlorine

The chlorination of water is a disinfecting method used by water treatment plants to eliminate the presence of bacteria and other microorganisms in city supplies.  This seems beneficial, but consider the consequences: chlorine in water often reacts with other naturally-occurring elements to produce toxins that are carcinogenic. Prolonged exposure has been linked with several adverse health conditions like asthma and several types of cancer.

#9 – Lead

According to the Centers for Disease Control, Lead in water is a major concern for children and pregnant women, as it affects physical and mental development. Although measures taken over the last few decades have drastically reduced the amount of lead in water supplies, it is still often found in houses and buildings with old pipes. Water that sits for long periods of time in corroded pipes can become contaminated and, when drank, result in lead poisoning.

#8 – Cysts

Cryptosporidium and Giardia are two of the most common water-borne microbiological cysts. These protozoan parasites enter lakes and streams through sewage and animal waste. Drinking water from said lakes and streams is not such a good idea, unless you’re sure the cysts have been filtered out. You could end up with a mild to severe gastrointestinal illness.

#7 – BPA

BPA, otherwise known as bisphenol-A, is found in the plastic used in water bottles and other manufactured products. A large number of studies on BPA have found its effects on the body to be toxic. If BPA leaches into bottled water, it could result in many different types of cancer.

#6 – Fluoride

Ah, the Fluoride debate: to fluoridate or not to fluoridate.  Well, some maintain that fluoride in water is beneficial to dental health. Others claim it is linked to bone cancer and can actually cause dental fluorosis with extensive exposure. It’s all a matter of where your priorities lie. Sure you might die of cancer, but at least you can still flash those healthy, strong pearly whites during your funeral visitation, right?

#5 – Fecal Coliforms

Yes, you read that right. While bottled water companies market their product as healthier than tap, many bottles have been found to contain a small percentage of feces. What’s another word for feces?

You don’t want that in your water.

#4 – Pesticides and Herbicides

This might not sound like such a big deal, since pesticides and herbicides are regularly used to farm our world’s food supplies. But whether you eat them or drink them, these substances are toxic, and have been labeled “gender benders.” Studies have found that atrazine, a common herbicide, is able to turn male frogs into female frogs. Farm run-off puts these toxins in our water supplies, so unless you’re trying to induce a sex change, I’d be careful.

#3 – Pharmaceuticals

Pharmaceuticals are scary, because they may be harder to filter than all of these other substances. Since pharmaceuticals do not biodegrade, throwing them in the trash or flushing them down the toilet may cause them to end up in your water supply. Ninety percent of pills can pass through humans unchanged, so that human waste becomes a factor as well. Repeatedly ingesting water contaminated with pharmaceuticals can disrupt normal hormone function or lead to cancer.

#2 – Natural Gas

Several homes across the country, all of which are near a local natural-gas drilling site, have witnessed the miracle of flaming tap water. The good news is that it’s easy to test for – hold a lighter up to your faucet. The down side is that you might get burned while doing so.

#1 – Crickets

In the words of Dr. Peter Gleick, “yes, crickets.” Gleick recently published a book called, Bottled and Sold: The Story Behind Our Obsession With Bottled Water. In it, he discusses the contaminants found in bottled water that most people don’t look for. His examples include a 1994 recall on a Texas-manufactured, bottled, sparkling water that was found to be contaminated with crickets.

I don’t think it gets more disturbing than this, but I could be wrong.  Are these the ten worst things found in tap and bottled water supplies?  Perhaps you have some contaminated water stories you’d like to share.