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Water, water everywhere.


Surpassing soda, beer, and wine as the hottest seller in today's beverage market, bottled water is an industry that currently enjoys annual wholesale purchases in the $2 billion range. This figure is expected to double in the next few years. As we noted in an earlier issue, New York City tap water, judged by an independent tasting panel some years ago to be as good as any noncarbonated bottled water on the market, is now being bottled for sale to other communities ! The reason for this bottled water craze would seem to be that various local tap waters are either unpalatable or unhealthy. Doubtless, many communities in this country have tap water that leaves something to be desired in taste, but is it true that much of it is unhealthy? Not so, says Curtis Coker, assistant to the director of the Division of Regulatory Guidance for the Food and Drug Administration's Bottled Water Division. "Most of this (increased consumption of bottled water) is taking advantage of people's fears," he says, adding, "People will believe what they want to believe." Likewise, Alan Hais of the Environmental Protection Agency says, "Basically, public water is safe in this country. It's some small systems that are our biggest concerns. In smaller systems, bottled water may be a temporary solution."

The Safe Drinking Water Act of 1974 established minimal national standards for safe drinking water and set maximum limits for pollutants that may cause health problems. Under the surveillance of the EPA, nearly 85 different contaminants are now being tested in both public and bottled waters. The basic concern is the same for both public water systems and private bottling companies-to find a good source of water. Whether it comes from a well, a spring, or an underground source, the FDA tests that source, where contamination is most likely to originate.

The FDA is also concerned about the source of carbon dioxide in "sparkling" waters, which are assumed to be naturally carbonated. It has only recently become known that one of today's most popular brands has no natural gas in it-it is all added by injection before filling the bottles. New European regulations now require bottled-water companies to identify their products as carbonated mineral water or carbonated spring water-if it is not, in fact, naturally sparkling.
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Title Annotation:tap water vs bottled water
Publication:Medical Update
Date:Mar 1, 1991
Previous Article:Now hear this!
Next Article:Can't you take some of your own medicine - with you?

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