Aquafina is Actually Tap Water - The True Liars are at it Again

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Aquafina is Actually Tap Water - The True Liars are at it Again

July 27th 2007 -
The true liars are at it again. This time its a massive campaign to mislead consumers about the merits of drinking purified water. For those of you who missed my April 2006 Health By Design letter a true liar is someone who knowingly tells a half-truth hoping that his listener will accept it as the whole truth.

This week news outlets across the country proclaimed "Pepsi admits that Aquafina is really tap water!" Self-proclaimed experts jumped forward to extol the evils of drinking bottled water and assure readers, listeners, and viewers that their best interests are served by drinking water straight from the tap.

What the pundits stated is true - Pepsi and most other purveyors of bottled water do use tap water of large cities as their source. What was left unsaid was that the water in the bottle has no more in common with tap water than tap water has in common with sewer water. Most cities obtain at least a portion of their water from water treatment plants. The source of water for a water treatment plant is the city sewer (not storm sewers, but the nasty flush-it-down-the-drain sewers). Why aren't the tap water lovers castigating the cities for selling sewer water in the same way they are attacking Pepsi, Coca Cola, and others for selling tap water?

Not surprisingly, many of the experts recommended that people choose "spring water" if buying a bottled water. They failed to point out that the term "spring water" is meaningless. Since a portion of my city's water supply comes from an underground aquifer I could legally fill bottles out of my home tap, label them "spring water" and sell them without doing any additional processing.

Tap water should not be used as drinking water. To understand why, simply go to the cleaning supply aisle of your local supermarket, find a bottle of chlorine bleach, and read the warnings on the label. Each year I receive a water quality report from the City of Sapulpa. In addition to chlorine, the contaminants present (at or below acceptable levels) include alpha emitters (radioactive particles), lead, fluoride, nitrates, nitrites, haloacetic acids, trihalomethanes, and other suspended and dissolved solids (e.g. toilet paper) that are unregulated and do not need to be named specifically.

The difference between tap water and Aquafina is a matter of purity. Pepsi starts with tap water, but purifies it using a seven step process that includes reverse osmosis. The result is water free from chlorine and other contaminants. Water has many uses beyond human consumption. I have no objection to using my city's water for them. It would be costly and absurd to use water that has been purified to the degree of Aquafina for washing clothes, mopping the floor, watering the garden, or flushing the toilet. When it comes to what goes into my body, however, I demand better.

What's behind the latest true lie? It's part of the "save the planet" campaign. Critics argue that too many plastic water bottles are going into landfills and that too much energy is being consumed in the process of purifying and shipping bottled water for resale. They are content to see the health of individuals slowly destroyed by small daily doses of poisons as long as the "health of the planet" is not compromised.

I am very much in favor of preserving the environment. I advocate recycling, conservation of resources, and other measures to improve the world around us. I cannot, however, advocate that practices that enhance the ability of people to lead long and productive lives be abandoned. Drinking pure water is one of the most critical steps needed to maintain good health.

For more information on the importance of drinking purified water see Water: The Foundation of Health

Dale Peterson, M.D.