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The diminishment of drinkable water has spawned a bourgeoning industry of monumental proportions. Bottled water has become the largest beverage industry in the world, surpassing soft drinks. The United States alone spends upwards of $20 Billion a year on bottled

The diminishment of drinkable water has spawned a bourgeoning industry of monumental proportions. Bottled water has become the largest beverage industry in the world, surpassing soft drinks. The United States alone spends upwards of $20 Billion a year on bottled water at a cost that is 300 times that of tap water.

There is the perception that bottled water is purer than other sources. The fact is that in the United States about 45 percent of bottled water originates from tap water with varying degrees of processing.

By far the most prominent bottle being used is plastic. It is convenient, easy to package, inexpensive and disposable. Sounds attractive on paper. However, these attributes belie the costs to our health and to that of our planet as 90 percent of these recyclable bottles are not recycled. These bottles make their way into our oceans and into marine life costing millions of lives each year.

Conversely, in an effort to reduce this carbon footprint, some people have started reusing these disposable plastic water bottles by refilling them multiple times. While this may seem like a good idea in concept, it can actually be dangerous to reuse a single-use water bottle. When you reuse these bottles, you risk exposure to chemicals and micro-plastics. In addition, the leaching effect of these chemicals and micro-plastics is enhanced with the rising temperatures here in the summer months especially when the bottles bake inside parked vehicles.

The most common chemicals we are talking about are BPA’s and PET’s.

BPA (Bisphenol A) acts as an estrogen. When consumed in water through leaching plastic it can cause a variety of chromosomal abnormalities that have been tied to birth defects and developmental disabilities in children. Humans with high BPA concentrations are three times more likely to suffer from cardiovascular disease and two and a half times more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes. BPA can also cause decreased fertility in both men and women. And, when children are exposed to BPA while in the womb, this can lead to complications later in life such as hyperactivity disorders, early-onset puberty and an increased risk for certain cancers.

PET (Phthalate; polyethylene terephthalate), a family of industrial chemicals used to soften PVC plastic and as solvents in cosmetics and other consumer products, can damage the liver, kidneys, lungs, and reproductive system, particularly in developing testes.

Not only does bottled water absorb some of the chemical compounds from the plastic it is stored in, recent studies suggest that the plastic itself can find its way into the water. In fact, a World Health Organisation (WHO) study found that in 93 percent of popular bottled water brands tested the water contained plastic fibers. While studies on the prevalence of micro-plastics from bottled water, and the potential danger this presents, are still in the early stages, one can only imagine the potential long-term effects of consuming plastic, highlighting another reason to limit one’s use of plastic bottles.

The lesson here is not that bottled water is bad. Drinking water is good and essential for life. As with any nutrient that we consume, one should choose wisely the source of the water consumed and the containers used to package it and consider the consequences of processing on that precious resource.

Dr. Miles practices Naturopathic Medicine alongside other holistic practitioners at the Catalina Clinic of Integrative Medicine in Catalina, Arizona. Visit: www.catalinaclinic.com.