Bottled Water and The Environment
Most people don’t think twice about bottled water and its source, or potential risks. Companies have done a great job advertising and making us all believe that bottle water is safer and the best option for us over tap water. The truth is, that is not always the case.
Bottle water is a convenient and quick way to hydrate your body. The bottles are spill proof and help you to track your water in-take as most are labeled with the volume of water you’re consuming. It can be the safer option in some areas especially when natural disaster disrupts the waterlines, but overall it is more expensive, can contain chemicals, does not contain fluoride, promotes the use of fossil fuel and increases environmental hazards. Studies have also found that with the increase of bottle water consumption, there has been increase in tooth decay (2).
What chemicals could bottled water contain? Bottled water can be dangerous to your health if not stored properly. Direct sunlight or high temperatures can cause the plastics to leak out the following chemicals; antimony (Sb) and Bisphenol A (BPA) (5). These chemicals are being researched and linked to increasing the risk of cancer and other medical conditions.
What environmental hazards? It takes 17 million barrels of oil to make the 900,000 tons of plastic for bottled water, that’s enough to fuel 1 million cars for a year! The worst part is they have found that only 20% of these bottles get recycled (1). When these bottles are not recycled they end up in landfills and pollute our ocean. As of this past Friday March 23, 2018 CNN reported that the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is about 1.6 million square kilometers in size, and up to 16 times bigger than previous estimates, this makes it more than double the size of Texas and its growing much faster than expected (6).
It is known that soda, beer, and coffee are bad for your teeth but some of the most popular brands of water also have a dangerous pH level and lack fluoride, both of which can increase risk of decay. Enamel starts to erode at a pH level of 5.5, so it is best to avoid drinks with anything lower than that. Brands with pH levels closer to zero are more acidic and can erode your tooth enamel. Brands with pH levels between seven and fourteen are alkaline. There have been many tests done on different bottled waters and their pH levels, you can find most of them online, but here are the results on the most common ones (3).
· Smartwater: 4 (Acidic- worst for your teeth)
· Aquafina: 4
· Voss: 4
· Dasani: 4
· Poland Spring: 7 (Neutral – if drops below 5.5 can harm your enamel)
· Volvic: 7.5
· Fiji: 8
· Essentia: 8
· Evian: 8.5 (Alkaline- this is the safest for your teeth)
Water from the tap tends to be less convenient, and sometimes has an odor or taste that does not appeal to people. Tap water is less expensive, and also contains regulated amounts of fluoride, depending on where you live. This fluoridated water has proven to play a huge role in decreasing tooth decay. (Check out my previous blog on water fluoridation for more details and facts) Although, most people say they don’t like tap water, did you know that 40% of all bottled water is taken from municipal water sources (a.k.a tap water) (4).
At the end of the day water is essential for survival and important in your daily routine. You should be drinking six to eight 8-ounce glasses of water daily to keep the body properly hydrated. There are so many BPA free fun reusable water bottles on the market if you want to help the environment and put money in your pocket. If you prefer your bottled water be sure to recycle your plastic bottles, check the type of water you are drinking for its pH levels. If you have young children who are also drinking bottled water ask their dentists about the option of fluoride tabs. Everyone should be using fluoride toothpaste & rinse no matter what water you drink.