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5 Reasons to Say No to Bottled Water Forever | Part One | It’s Worse Than Tap Water & Bad for Health

When we originally began crafting this blog, it was our intention to make this a quick read; a rapid-fire burst of facts to help inform our community about the dangers of drinking bottled water. However, as we delved deeper into the research and information around bottled water practices – we were astounded at the information we found and felt like it was all important to share.

Some things just can’t be reduced down to simplistic sound bites.

So we decided that, in light of the Coronavirus forcing people to remain at home where they have more time to read, we would release this as a blog series through the month. We hope that you find this information as valuable and eye-opening as it was for us water experts to research.

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It seems like it’s impossible to go to a family picnic or public event where plastic water bottles aren’t being sold. Even more annoying, many events and venues FORCE you to purchase their plastic bottled water rather than allowing you to fill up your own refillable bottle.

And my, oh my, is there a great deal of money being made. According to the International Bottled Water Association, bottled water is now the nation’s best selling bottled beverage. But that’s about where the good news ends. Bottled water comes with a whole slew of horrible costs, financial and otherwise, for those who consume it.

Read on and find out more about what exactly that “convenience” is costing you and your family. 

 

Reason 1: It’s worse than tap water.

 

In June of 2019, the Center for Environmental Health – a nonprofit out of Oakland, CA – reported that it had found high levels of arsenic in Starkey bottled water (sold from Whole Foods) and Panafiel (owned by Keurig Dr. Pepper). Consumer Reports found out that the Food and Drug Administration knew of the arsenic levels in Panafiel bottled water since 2013.

Between 2016 and 2017, Starkey bottled water recalled over 2000 cases of water after tests by regulators showed arsenic levels way higher than the permitted 10 parts per billion. A year later, Whole Food’s own testers showed the arsenic level to be just below the allowed threshold – but according to many experts, that amount is still dangerous to consume on a regular basis.

For example, according to the Environmental Working Group’s analysis, 10 parts per billion as a limit is “not low enough to protect public health, potentially causing up to 600 cancer cases in 1 million people who drink arsenic- contaminated water for a lifetime. A more recent EPA analysis, from a 2010 draft report, suggests that arsenic is much more toxic than previously estimated.”

Consumer Reports advocates for the permitted amount of 10 parts per billion to be reduced to 3 parts per billion, while the Environmental Working Group agrees with the State of California’s goal of 4 parts per TRILLION as a safe limit.

After tracking down and reviewing hundreds of public records and test reports from bottled water brands, Consumer Reports found the following brands to be contaminated with arsenic levels higher that 3 ppb: Starkey (owned by Whole Foods), Peñafiel (owned by Keurig Dr Pepper), Crystal Geyser Alpine Spring Water, Volvic (owned by Danone), Crystal Creamery and EartH₂O.

Interestingly enough, bottled water isn’t held to the same standards as tap water. During their research, Consumer Reports found that states have differing guidelines for safe levels of arsenic in tap water vs. bottled water (tap water having stricter thresholds) and that it was much more difficult to find public records on bottled water. Further, some states destroy testing reports after a year and others “don’t collect them at all.”

The irony here that we as water experts see is that it isn’t all that difficult to remove arsenic in the first place with some basic filtration equipment. Considering these companies make a mint off of something that’s a free resource, they – above all – should be able to pony up for some arsenic filtration. 

 

Reason 2: Even without arsenic, it’s bad for your health.

 

The main issue is the plastic itself. Plastic is made from a variety of different materials that are either toxic chemicals themselves or have the quaint ability to absorb toxic chemicals around them. Plastic that hangs out in the sun is even more likely to be riddled with toxicity.

 


Here are some of the things you’ll find comprise plastic bottles: Dioxin, Persistent organic pollutants (POPs), Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), Polyethylene terephthalate (PET), Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), Bisphenol A (BPA) and it’s sister chemicals that they use in “BPA free” bottles, Bisphenol S (BPS) & Bisphenol F (BPF) – and no, they’re not any safer. 


While one could go into excruciating detail on how each of these lovely compounds specifically impacts us (click on the hyperlinks to read about them individually) – the main thing you need to know is that these are (or contain) persistent, bioaccumulative toxic substances, or PBTs –  and that they never go away, instead breaking down into smaller and smaller parts, they are toxic for us and animals, and that as they make their way up the food chain they actually “biomagnify”, becoming more toxic – or, in the words of the Environmental Protection Agency, “leading to toxic effects at higher trophic levels even though ambient concentrations are well below toxic thresholds.”

Because they’re not very water soluble, in the ocean they separate out, going to hang out either at the surface or in the sediment at the bottom. The EPA describes, “When PBTs encounter plastic debris, they tend to preferentially sorb (take up or hold) to the debris. In effect, plastics are like magnets for PBTs.”

And the more weathered, fragmented, or old that plastic is, the more it attracts them.

So the next time you’re out traveling and you’re snorkeling in the ocean and you come across some of that plastic debris, just know that you’re swimming in a sea of PBT magnets.

And now it seems like the right moment to mention microplastics, which are defined as plastic pieces smaller than 5 mm. As previously mentioned, plastic doesn’t degrade and doesn’t go away. Instead it just breaks down into smaller and smaller parts. There’s even such a thing as “nanoplastics”.

And they’re EVERYWHERE. A recent review collated 50 studies in which they found microplastics in drinking water, waste water and fresh water. Some of these studies counted thousands of microplastic particles in every liter of drinking water. According to this National Geographic article, a recent study says its possible humans are ingesting 39,000 to 52,000 microplastic particles a year – and that’s probably a conservative estimate. (And when you consider inhalation, then the number shoots up to 74,000 particles a year!)

And here’s the kicker: bottled water is, again, more contaminated than tap water. NatGeo reports, “People who meet their recommended water intake through tap water ingest an additional 4,000 plastic particles annually, while those who drink only bottled water ingest an additional 90,000, the study found.”

So rather than hoarding bottled water during the outbreak, you might be better served to rely on your tap water. I know this news probably comes late to many of you – but for those of you who didn’t respond to the COVID-19 crisis by buying a bunch of water, go ahead and pat yourself on the shoulder.

Next week we will be covering the environmental impact, the shady business practices of bottled water companies, and the HUGE hidden costs of buying bottled water.

 

Reverse Osmosis Water: How Does It Work?

Lovingly referred to as “RO water” in our office, reverse osmosis water is the safest, most preferred way to filter your drinking water, hands down.

A lot of modern technologies for purifying water sources involves, somewhat incongruously, adding various chemicals into it – such as chlorine or its hybrid cousin, chloramine (a not-so-reassuring blend of chlorine and, if you can believe it, ammonia!) all in the interest of killing harmful bacterias, algaes and overgrowths.

Yes, yes, they say such chemical additives are safer for us, and there is some truth to that, but groups like the Environmental Working Group beg to differ, claiming that there’s already a ton of harmful chemicals in our water sources that haven’t even been named and studied by the EPA – and for those that HAVE been studied, the amount deemed to be safe hasn’t been updated in over 5o years. Yikes!

Reverse osmosis technology is the only type of purifying filtration that doesn’t use any chemicals to make your water pure and safe. Rather, it uses a semi-permeable membrane that separates water molecules from everything else – not only by the size differential of the water molecules, but also by molecular charge. Literally, everything else can’t pass through the membrane -even miniscule contaminants like paint pigments or even tobacco smoke can’t get through.

 

 

All that leftover contaminant guck gets drained away in a little dribble of waste water. Speaking of the waste water, at Kinetico we’re widely renowned for our distaste for overt waste and that’s why for the Kinetico K5, our best RO unit to date, it produces only 1 gal of waste water per 1 gal of clean and pure RO water….unlike our competitors. Theirs tend to average around 3 gal of waste water per 1 gal of of RO water.

Plus, that K5 has another unique feature to us – the Everclean Rinse: its uses that fresh, clean RO water to rinse the membrane off every time the storage tank tops off, extending its life and ensuring purity with every pour.

So what’s the catch?

There’s two primary arguments that come up when people are considering the Do I or Don’t I question of RO water:

The Water Pressure

RO units rely on pressure to push the molecules through the membrane. And not all water pressure is created equal. In fact, the water pressure varies greatly from source to source. The average city water source emerges somewhere between 40 – 100 psi (pounds per square inch); well water, on the other hand, has a little bit less – 20 – 60 psi depending on the pump.

Not to mention, there’s factors like temperature and TDS (Total Dissolved Solids) that also impact the ability for RO’s to make water. This is why they always have a storage tank of some kind, so there’s a large stock of water ready to use on demand. BUT, most storage tanks use an air bladder with a pressure of about 5 – 9 psi. And for a 3 gallon tank, there’s usually only about 1.25 gallons of water in there due to bladder displacement. As the tank begins to empty, the pressure at the faucet dwindles down to an annoying dribble. And who wants to wait 12 minutes to fill up the coffee pot?

Not I, said the hen. And neither do you, I imagine.

That’s why Kinetico offers the aptly named WOW storage tank (water-on-water). It uses the water pressure of the home (40 – 60 psi) to propel water to distant locations. In the 3 gal WOW tank, there’s 2.7 gal of stored clean water and the impressive flow rate is consistent all the way until it empties. And when it needs to refill, there’s no bladder resisting it, so it refills quickly. That’s why you can get up to 40 gallons per day of fresh, pure water from the K5 Reverse Osmosis System.

 

It Takes the Good Minerals Out

Here’s the thing: water has never been a primary source for you to get your minerals. You get them from food or food supplements. Even if you were to drink an entire bathtub of mineral-rich water in a day, you might not get 10% of the minerals your body needs.

The benefit you get from drinking unfiltered water and it’s minor amount of beneficial magnesium and calcium does NOT outweigh the catastrophic impact of all the OTHER stuff in that water: lead, arsenic, chromium, nitrates, chloramines, PFOA & PFOS as well as about 35,000 + of other chemicals.

 

However, if you like the taste of mineralized water and still feel like every little bit helps, then the K5 Reverse Osmosis System DOES have the capability to re-mineralize the water. All you need to do is add the Mineral Plus cartridge in there, which costs $73 and only needs to be changed every other year – this will put the absorbable forms of magnesium and calcium back into your drinking water where it won’t harm your pipes.

In this day and age, when chemicals abound unrecognized in seemingly “safe” water supplies, it really comes down to you to stay informed on what’s happening and take the necessary steps to provide safe drinking water for hearth and home. Reverse osmosis water is a no-brainer investment that will provide returns on your family’s health for generations to come.

Contamination Watch: PFOA & PFOS

BY SHERIKA TENAYA

 

You may hear them quietly mentioned in the media under the unassuming acronym of PFAs, which stands for per-and polyfluroalkyl substances – a name that hardly describes the prolific and destructive nature of America’s not-so-new class of star contaminants.

 

What is it?

 

The two most common types are perfluoroctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluoroctane sulfonate (PFOS), and they are used in things like pesticides, firefighting foam, non-stick cookware coatings, food packaging, stain repellents, paint, cleaning products, textile and leather products, metal plating, electronics and the like.

 

These man-made chemicals are in no way naturally occurring in our world and are, in fact – as of the early 2000’s – no longer allowed to be manufactured in the US.

 

A blessing, to be sure, but not enough to keep us safe. Especially since the EPA’s Significant New Use Rules (SNUR) still allow for them to be used in a few, “highly technical” applications and allows for existing stocks created before the SNUR came into effect to still be used.

 

The problem is, the same thing that makes them so useful in these various applications is the very thing that makes them so destructive for us and our environment: they have a unique ability to withstand high temperatures, water, grease, as well as strong acids. They simply don’t go away or degrade over time.

 

During the manufacturing process, large amounts of these compounds were released into the air, soil and water around these flurochemical facilities. As of May 6, the Environmental Working Group reported 610 different sites spanning across 43 different states. That’s a bare minimum of 446 different communities with detection of PFAS contamination in their tap water supplies.

 

And keep in mind, these numbers are impacted by the fact that some states are slow to focus on detection of these compounds – so the numbers may very well be much higher.

 

Where is it?

 

In their anionic form, they are water soluble and can transfer easily from the soil to the groundwater, where they are carried far and wide. Indeed, PFOS have already been found to be bio-concentrated at concerning levels in fish.

 

So how do we get exposed? The biggest culprit is the water you drink and bathe in, next is the ingestion of food grown in contaminated soil as well as ingestion of farmed fish – but you could also be exposed when you use commercial products, and even from inhaling particulate in the air over which PFC-containing planes have passed by.

 

If you live near a garbage dump site, a military base, a section of land where firefighters work or practice (or have in the past worked and practiced), and of course, near a flurochemical production facility – you are more than likely exposed.

 

What are the impacts on my health?

 

To be totally honest, they haven’t done much testing on the impact on human bodies, although we do know some things, for example – toxicology studies show that PFOS and PFOA are readily absorbed after eating/drinking/inhaling and accumulate primarily in the serum, kidney and liver.

 

We know that PFOS and PFOA have half-lives in humans ranging from 2 to 9 years, depending on the study. This lengthy half life basically means that these chemicals hang out in your system, increasing the burden on your detoxifying organs over time and more than likely resulting in chronic toxicity. Indeed, chronic exposure to PFOS and PFOA has been shown to lead to the development of tumors in the liver of rats.

 

Speaking of which, let’s talk about the research done on animals in regards to these chemicals:

 

Acute- and intermediate-duration oral studies on rodents show that they can have “concerning impacts” on rodent growth development, reproductive system, neuroendocrine system and can also mess with the rodents’ fatty acid metabolism and may deregulate metabolism of lipids and lipoproteins. Translation: wonky energy, screwy hormones, increased toxicity, stress on the heart, and several other potentially dire effects. 

 

And let’s not forget about cancer. In May 2006, the EPA Science Advisory Board said that, in regards to the PFOA cancer data, it is consistent with the EPA guidelines for the Carcinogen Risk Assessment descriptor and are “likely to be carcinogenic to humans.”

 

What can I do?

 

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, there’s three ways to filter for these contaminants.

 

The first is through activated carbon treatment, which is effective because it is highly porous and also provides a large surface area to which contaminants may absorb. It  is made from organic materials with high carbon content such as wood, lignite, and coal; and is often used in granular form called granular activated carbon (GAC).

 

GAC has been shown to effectively remove PFAS from drinking water when it is used in a flow through filter mode after particulates have already been removed and has been shown to work well on both PFOA and PFOS.

 

The second method is high-pressure membranes, such as reverse osmosis, which have been shown to be  extremely effective at removing PFAS. According to the research, more than 90 percent effective, to be exact.

 

Finally, there’s ion exchange. Ion exchange resins are like tiny powerful magnets that attract and hold the contaminated materials from passing through the water system. The negatively charged ions of these PFAs are removed with anionic resins. However, these can be a bit more spendy.

The Simple Solution:

 

In removing PFOA & PFOS, our K5 Reverse Osmosis Drinking Water System gets the job done and, further, has been certified by the industry’s NSF/ANSI 58 standard for removal of these contaminants, as it has both the high pressure reverse osmosis membrane mentioned above as well as the activated carbon, covering both types of contaminants mentioned here.

 

When it comes to the health and well-being of your family, it’s important to give some deep contemplation towards your values and personal responsibility when it comes to preventing or minimizing toxin exposure to those who rely on you for their well-being. We all have a responsibility as modern day humans to evaluate how we can be as effective as possible in keeping our personal environment, as well as our communal environs, as safe and sustainable as possible.