A new study challenging the idea that bottled water is “purer” than tap water found a laundry list of nasty substances in major brand name water, and named two brands that exceeded California’s health standards.
Here are a few choice goodies found in the water: Coliform bacteria, caffeine, the pain reliever acetaminophen, fertilizer, solvents, plastic-making chemicals and the radioactive element strontium.
All brands met the federal standards for drinking water, though researchers were concerned enough about two of the brands to release their names.
Sam’s Choice sold by Wal-Mart and Acadia of Giant Food supermarkets contained chlorine byproducts above California’s (stricter) standards, according to the Washington-based Environmental Working Group, an organization founded by scientists that advocates stricter regulation.
In the Wal-Mart and Giant Food bottled water, the highest concentration of chlorine byproducts, known as trihalomethanes, was over 35 parts per billion. California requires 10 parts per billion or less, and the industry’s International Bottled Water Association makes 10 its voluntary guideline. The federal limit is 80.
Water researcher Dr. David Carpenter, director of the Institute for Health and the Environment of the University at Albany, who had no role in the study, singled out trihalomethanes as the biggest concern because of strong research links to cancer.
“These are levels that should not be in bottled water,” he said.
Giant Food officials declined to comment. Instead, company officials released a brief statement asserting that Acadia meets all regulatory standards.
Acadia is sold in the mid-Atlantic states, so it isn’t held to California’s standard. In most places, bottled water must meet roughly the same federal standards as tap water.
The researchers also said the Wal-Mart brand exceeded California’s limit by five times for a second chlorine byproduct, bromodichloromethane.
The Environmental Working Group said it notified California’s attorney general of its intent to sue Wal-Mart. The group wants the company to label its bottles in California with a warning of cancer-causing chemicals. Wal-Mart did not respond to a request for comment.
Ultimately, the researchers concluded that bottled water was, in some cases, no less polluted than tap water, and a waste of money. They recommended filtering tap water yourself.