What's in Your Water?
You know it is important to drink a lot of water while you are pregnant. But concerns about lead, mercury, and other potential contaminants lurking in your water may make you think twice before taking your next sip. How can you make sure that you and your baby are drinking the purest water available?
Water pollution occurs when the Earth's waterways become contaminated with organisms that don't belong there. More often than not, water pollution is caused by human activities, such as industrial and agricultural manufacturing, food processing, petroleum use, and the improper storage of chemicals. Water pollution has a harmful effect on drinking water supplies and on the environment as a whole.
Bottled Versus Tap
More than 90 percent of the water in the United States meets the tap water quality standards set forth by the EPA. Your local water authority is required by law to send you an annual report detailing the quality of your drinking water and alerting you to any contaminants that have been detected. You may even be able to access you water quality report online at the EPA's website.
Unfortunately, according to the Environmental Working Group, a non-profit agency that specializes in identifying toxins, more than half of the contaminants found in local water systems are unregulated and therefore do not appear on the water tests or reports produced by water facilities. The group reported that the EPA tests and regulates less than 20 percent of the chemicals found in drinking water, 41 of which have been linked to reproductive health risks.
In 2007, American consumed more than 8.8 billion gallons of bottled water, making it the second largest commercial beverage in the country (next to carbonated beverages). According to the Earth Policy Institute, nearly a quarter of all bottled water must be transported long distances by boat, train, and truck to reach American consumers.
At one time, most Americans had no choice but to get their water from the tap. In recent years, however, sales of bottled water in the United States have exploded, largely as a result of a public perception of purity driven by advertisements and packaging labels featuring pristine glaciers and crystal-clear mountain springs.
Yet, according to the Natural Resource Defense Council's (NRDC) four-year study on the bottled water industry, water that comes from a bottle is no cleaner or safer than water that comes from the tap. In fact, NRDC's study found that at least 25 percent of bottled water is actually just tap water that has been packaged in a bottle.
And bottled water takes a much greater toll on the environment than tap. Bottled water uses more energy and resources in its production and shipping than tap water, and it creates the production of disposable plastic bottles that fill up landfills at an alarming rate. Think again before purchasing bottled water. Save money and resources by carrying your own reusable bottle filled with filtered tap water instead.