In 2014, I decided to take my first Earth Science class in college and at that point, I realized how in love I was with learning about our planet. After that, I took as many Earth Science classes I could get my hands on. In my third Earth science class, ‘Conservation of Natural Resources’, we were asked to watch 12 different documentaries and write reports on each of them. Being up to date with current environmental issues, many of these documentaries I already knew the information on, however, one I didn’t really know anything about was Bottled Water. I don’t really drink bottled water because, honestly, it’s a waste of money. The only time we do drink bottled water is on road trips when access to water is minimal or when we are in countries where they do not have access to a clean water system.
In the documentary I watched called Tapped (2009), they discussed industries stealing water, the FDA’s regulations on bottled water, BPA and the effects of BPA in water bottles. Despite this documentary being nearly 9 years old, unfortunately, a lot of the same issues and questions have not been fixed or answered still today. Therefore, for those of you who are buying it every day or even every so often, I would like to help you jump off that wagon. I would like to introduce you to the chemical, BPA.
BPA: (bisphenol A) “is an industrial chemical that has been used to make certain plastics and resins since the 1960s. BPA is found in polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins. Polycarbonate plastics are often used in containers that store food and beverages, such as water bottles.” mayoclinic.com
Simplified: BPA is a chemical that is inside plastics and coats the inside of cans. Our water and food are then stored inside.
Is BPA safe?
This is, unfortunately, one of those situations where studies say that in “small doses” it is okay, or, that studies “suggest it may” have an effect on your body. However, I drink around 2 litres a day, is that considered a small dose worth of BPA? Over the past 10+ years, according to my research, there has been a large number of studies made with dramatically mixed results. That itself should set off warning bells. Researchers have either been told 1) their studies were not up to “Good Laboratory Practice” if evidence was found, 2) studies concluded that in “small doses” was fine or 3) studies just suddenly found no evidence at all. I did, however, read into an article on the National Center for Biotechnology Information and found the history, reported studies and in theory found out that there wasn’t really a solid conclusion yet. If you’re up for reading more about it, I highly suggest reviewing the entire article that is available here.
One thing that did really catch my interest in this article was this statement.
“Most alarmingly, they highlighted an apparent funding effect in the BPA research. Between 1997 and 2005, there were 115 studies on the effects of BPA at or below the safety standard, conducted by dozens of laboratories in the United States, Japan and Europe. The reported effects of BPA included changes in the fetal prostate and mammary gland development, disruption of chromosomal alignment in developing eggs in females, altered immune function, metabolic abnormalities, and changes in the brain and behaviour. Of these 115 studies, 90% of those that were government funded reported some effects from exposures at or below the reference dose, whereas none of the 11 studies funded by industry reported any effects.66“
Here we can see that this issue is still very black and white. This is not something that I think is uncommon in the scientific world when it comes to chemicals given to us. However, I have so many unanswered questions. For instance, what is considered a “low dose” in human consumption? How were there so many studies that showed adverse effects yet others showed none? How is a chemical that even “may” have such huge effects on our bodies still being fed to us? I went onto other research to try to find any other information that would show the effects of BPA and one thing I did find is that many people believe this chemical is not for our consumption too.
The FDA states that “BPA was issued under FDA’s food additive regulations and dates from the 1960s”, however, BPA has been around since the 1930s. According to prevention.com, it was used as a “synthetic estrogen” that was given to women. This synthetic estrogen can lead to, “decreased sperm production in men, early puberty in girls, fertility problems in both genders and animals studies have linked it to greater chances of miscarriage”. To top it off, BPA is said to also”Interferes with metabolic hormones and plays a role in heart disease, obesity and diabetes.” This was then banned because of its risk of causing cancer.
Why aren’t we being told about this?
News outlets have shared some articles which gave information about BPA but normally, the next issue comes up and we forget they ever existed. At the same time, water is an Industry. Bottled water is 560 times more expensive than tap water and the bottled water industry made a whopping 11.8 billion dollars in 2015 and nearly 16 billion in 2016. Also, in 2016, bottled water passed soda/soft drink and become the most popular choice of drink. For companies like Pepsi, Coke and Nestle, those numbers are incredible. Speaking of these companies, do you think it’s a good idea to have companies like Pepsi, Coke and Nestle controlling our water? Even today, there are still controversies over these companies going into natural water sources and stealing water, then, selling it back to consumers.
I read an article by Global Research.ca, who paints a beautiful picture of the brand Nestle. They state:
“The current Chairman and former CEO of Nestle, the largest producer of food products in the world, believe that the answer to global water issues is privatization. This statement is on record from the wonderful company that has peddled junk food in the Amazon, has invested money to thwart the labelling of GMO-filled products, has a disturbing health and ethics record for its infant formula and has deployed a cyber army to monitor Internet criticism and shape discussions in social media.”
Interesting what companies will do for money… #BoycottNestle
On top of these already unbelievable issues comes the one we all know enough about, Pollution. Every single piece of plastic that we have ever used is still around today. Every. Single. Piece.
The Mother Nature Network (mmn.com) lists the 10 top pollutants on the planet. In order, they are oil spills, radioactive waste, urban air pollution, mercury poisoning, greenhouse gasses, pharmaceutical pollution, plastics, untreated sewage, lead poisoning, and agricultural pollution.
Excessive plastic use has become a worldwide problem and its time we really stopped and focused on minimalizing our use. The next generations are going to have to deal with some serious consequences if we don’t start acting now. So, bring fabric bags shopping, stop using straws, stop buying bottled beverages and do your best to minimize buying foods in plastic bags. All these small things can make a huge difference!
One important thing we do to minimize our water bottle footprint is to buy a reusable water bottle, BPA free, and carry it around everywhere with us. There are some great non-plastic options like copper, stainless steel and glass. I highly recommend getting your hands on one, just remember to wash them out very regularly.
Below I have included the documentary “Tapped” in small snippets, so you can see what professionals have to say about the water bottle industry. If you drink bottled water, I URGE you to please watch. It is mind-blowing how out of control this industry is and this documentary really puts it in perspective for us.
I have written a small description on top to inform you what these clips are explaining.
9 Minutes: “Horrifying” test results from independent studies.
3 Minutes: FDA Interview on One person who regulates Bottled Water: “I spend some of my time on the bottled water but I have other responsibilities too”
Full “Tapped” Documentary:
Water is easily the most important element in our lives. However, we have been forced to believe that drinking water that we have to buy, is better than drinking water for free out of our taps. Quite frankly, both don’t do us much good. As much as our tap water has been poisoned, our bottled water is just as poisoned, or maybe even more. The only difference is that your spending your hard earned money on it. We have to become more aware of these issues and act on them. I hope this article will get you a step closer to understanding how crucial our stance on water should really be.