People ask us why we write articles which are critical of various aspects of the water industry---particularly when we ourselves are a part of that industry.

The answer is really quite simple. For the past decade or so, the State and Federal Governments has allowed the water industry to be "self-regulating". In essence, the government has said "

...if you guys have a problem with your product or your industry---clean it up and let Big Brother stay out of the problem if possible".

Unfortunately, much of the water industry has taken that mandate and turned it inside out---permitting lax advertising and product integrity standards within it's own ranks---looking the other way when questionable products or sales tactics are employed by "paid-up members" of reputable water associations.

In general, much of the water industry has been scheming up clever(but so-far legal) ways to mislead the public into believing they are buying so-called "pure water" when in fact only the words say "pure" and the actual product's resemblance to "pure" is only a fantasy.

This double-speak activity by the water industry has led some astute legislators across the country to introduce legislation to better control and monitor water products, water quality and water salesperson activities. Dozens of states now have legislation in place or pending which would penalize water vendors or distributors for misrepresentation of their products.

Are you being misled by the labeling on bottled water---by signs on vending machines, by water delivery operations or water stores which specialize in "pure" drinking water?

We say the chances are probably quite good that you are not getting the straight truth in most situations where water purity or equipment performance is discussed or documented. Basically, what you may be hearing or seeing is not what you think you are getting.

Oh yes, the water may say "sodium free, very low sodium, or even "low sodium", for example---but the truth may be far from what you perceive this label to mean.

For example: since the FDA has no single sodium standard for bottled water, the bottled water industry has taken advantage of this fact and for labels which may say "low sodium", the actual sodium level may range up to 592 mg/liter of water.

For the 6 million plus Americans who adhere to physician-prescribed sodium limiting diets, this is a total disaster! A consumer who is limited by a therapeutic diet of 0.5 and 1 gram of sodium/day will consume in excess of his or her sodium allotment daily by simply grabbing a bottle of water from the grocery shelf which says "low sodium".

Why is this happening? Simple. There are very few, if any, natural sources of drinking water which contain little or no sodium. Bottlers must get water to sell to the public---and if, by clever labeling they can use less than perfect or less then clean water sources, even tap water, for the bottled water product---well, you get the idea.

Even "sodium free" labeling permits up to 20 mg of sodium per liter. Therefore, bottlers, water vendors, water stores and others are free to state that their products are "sodium free" and still sell you water that contains up to 20 mg of sodium per liter! That is certainly NOT PURE WATER.

Water bottlers and the water industry are very sensitive about this subject and have, in our opinion, collectively attempted to delude the public into buying products which are really not what they are advertised to be.

Dr. Irina Cech of the School of Public Health at the University of Texas Health Science Center put it this way: "...the labels of (water) bottles are fanciful, but (are) not very informative and sometimes outright misleading...it would be more appropriate for manufacturers to stay with the facts".

Since federal regulations do not require bottled water manufacturers to disclose on the label the source of their water, some pretty exotic, far-fetched labels exist. One water says the source is "located 53 stories below the earth's surface". The list of other, speciously-designed labels and descriptions could fill a small book. In Houston, for example, a water product shows a sparkling mountain stream---implying that the water is from some mountain spring---whereas the small print at the bottom says the source of the water is the Houston municipal water system.

Since sodium is currently a topic of substantial interest, we will list those sources of water which you can obtain locally---with the possible range of sodium to be found in them---regardless of what the salesperson or label may imply:

Local tap water: sodium levels currently ranging from 50 to 200 mg/liter;

"drinking water" at vending machines: 50-200 mg/liter;

"purified water" at vending machines: 5-20 mg/liter;

"mineral water" purchased from grocery stores: 50-1000 mg/liter(or as specified in the small print on the label);

"filtered water" as purchased in grocery stores: 0-200 mg/liter depending on tap water source used; "purified water" as sold by water stores using reverse osmosis: up to 10 mg/liter;

"purified water" as sold by water stores using steam distillation: less than 0.3 mg/liter;

water processed by home "filtration systems(carbon)": up to 200 mg/liter or what your tap water may contain;

water processed by home "reverse osmosis" systems combined with home water softeners: 25-500 mg/liter depending on condition of reverse osmosis membrane;

water processed by home water steam distillation systems: less than 2 mg/liter regardless of incoming water condition

Knowing the composition of the water you are purchasing as well as the technique used will help you select the type of water(and vendor) to match your personal needs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



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