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Water sure is valuable. It makes up about 65 percent of your body. Doctors and nutritionists recommend that you guzzle eight 8-ounce glasses per day to prevent dehydration, a medical condition where the body uses more water than it takes in. So what's your water source? In recent years, more and more people are turning to the supermarket.

Bottled water has boomed into a big business. According to the research firm Beverage Marketing Corporation, the industry sells more than $35 billion worth worldwide each year. Americans shelled out $7.7 billion for bottled [H.sub.2]O in 2002, buying almost 6 billion gallons. Is bottled water really better than tap water?

"Not necessarily," says the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). In a four-year study, NRDC concluded that there is no guarantee that bottled water is safer or cleaner than tap water. NRDC states: "In fact, an estimated 25 percent or more of bottled water is really just tap water in a bottle--sometimes further treated, sometimes not."

Bottled water is actually considered a packaged food product the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates it with a long list of guidelines. Tap water, however, follows a different set of health standards monitored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The International Bottled Water Association (BWA), an industry trade group, says, "By law, FDA standards for bottled water must be at least as stringent and protective of public health as standards set by the EPA for public water systems."

If some bottled water is similar in quality to tap water, why bother? IBWA cites taste as one factor. "Chlorine is most often used to disinfect tap water and can leave an aftertaste. Some bottlers use ozonation, a form of supercharged oxygen and/or ultraviolet light as the final disinfecting agent, neither of which leaves an aftertaste." But in taste tests conducted in Cincinnati, Ohio, and New York City in 2001, testers ranked tap water just as highly as--or even better than--the bottled versions. However, water taste varies from one region to another.

Convenience is another factor promoted by IBWA. And in cases of natural dis asters like floods or hurricanes--which may contaminate public drinking water sources--a storage supply comes in handy.

It's undeniable: You can't live without water. Learn about water sources here:



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Author:Chiang, Mona
Publication:Science World
Date:Feb 2, 2004
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