On this hot, hot day, when much of the eastern United States is beset by a record-breaking heat wave, what could be more refreshing than a nice cold, fresh bottle of water?
After all, that’s exactly what is recommended by CDC health officials for prevention of heat-related illness:
Drink more fluids (nonalcoholic), regardless of your activity level. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink. Warning: If your doctor generally limits the amount of fluid you drink or has you on water pills, ask him how much you should drink while the weather is hot. Don’t drink liquids that contain alcohol or large amounts of sugar-these actually cause you to lose more body fluid. Also, avoid very cold drinks, because they can cause stomach cramps.
But, maybe, before you pass by the sink on your way to the fridge to get that nice bottle of water, you should watch this video…
This video was brought to mind this morning as I filled several liters of reusable water bottles with tap water in preparation for heading out into the field. It was also brought to mind by the newest Scienceblogs advertorial blog, Pepsico. In addition to being a major manufacturer of those sugary drinks the CDC is warning you not to drink on hot days, Pepsi is also a major producer of bottled water. Their Aquafina brand of bottled water is filtered, municipal tap water. But while muncipal water supplies are required to report their water quality and comply with federal drinking water standards, much fewer regulations exist around the quality of bottled water. So while there are some places where there are legitimate reasons for people to drink bottled water (e.g., lead pipes, pollution from coal mining or natural gas extraction), for the vast majority of Americans, there is no health benefit to drinking bottled water over municipal tap water.
Honestly, though, bottled municipal tap water doesn’t bother me as much as bottled spring water, where the springs and the aquatic ecosystems that depend on them can be destroyed in pursuit of the mythical pureness (and retail power) of spring water. While the bottled water industry will assure you that their groundwater consumption is much less than 1% of the national total groundwater withdrawals, the effects of those withdrawals are localized and not distributed around the country evenly. Finally, it doesn’t take much analysis to understand why buying bottled water from Fiji, an island in the tropical Pacific where a shallow freshwater lens will be irrevocably contaminated by salt water intrusion by overpumping of the aquifer, is a ridiculously bad idea.
For more on this topic, you might consider reading Peter Gleick’s book, Bottled and Sold: The Story Behind Our Obsession with Bottled Water.
So, today, drink plenty of tap water and stay cool!