Monday, July 27, 2015

Health Care and Spring Water

Earlier this Summer, companies that bottle spring water were forced to recall millions of plastic bottles of water filled with water collected at a natural spring. According to ABC News, Niagara Bottling said that one of its spring sources has a "positive indication" of E. coli, which the company said indicates that the water may be contaminated with human or animal wastes.

The company said it didn't receive any reports of illness or injury. E. coli microbes can cause diarrhea, cramps, nausea, headaches, or other symptoms, the company said, and may pose a greater risk for infants, young children, some of the elderly and people with severely compromised immune systems. More information about this healthcare issue can be found at this website: http://abcnews.go.com/Business/check-bottled-water-recalled-due-coli/story?id=31963480

The recalled water was sold under the brand names of Acadia, Acme, Big Y, Best Yet, 7-11, Niagara, Nature's Place, Pricerite, Superchill, Morning Fresh, Shaws, Shoprite, Western Beef Blue and Wegmans. ACME Markets, which operates supermarkets in Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, was among the supermarket chains announcing involvement in the recall. Among others were Shaws grocery stores in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont; and Wegmans in Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

According to Mother Jones, while many spring water brands started out selling water from a single source, a large portion now draw from multiple springs, even though they don't often tout that fact. The original springs are insufficient in part because demand has grown to the point where the quantity of water available from these natural springs isn't enough. For others, the springs have been over pumped, or the groundwater levels dropped and caused them to dry up.

There are a few rules that bottled-water brands have to follow, however. In order to be called "spring water," according to the EPA, a product has to be either "collected at the point where water flows naturally to the earth's surface or from a borehole that taps into the underground source." Unlike the term "spring water," other terms like "glacier water" or "mountain water" aren't regulated and "may not indicate that the water is necessarily from a pristine area," according to the EPA. 

But, despite spending over $11 billion per year on bottled water, most Americans don't know much about the origins of these beverages. More info can be found at this site: http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2013/03/bottled-water-poland-spring-rubio .

According to the Livestrong Foundation, bottled water is increasingly common, with Americans drinking more than 2 billion gallons of it each year. With the large variety of different types of water on the market, it can be confusing to know the difference between one and the other. Spring water and purified water come from two different sources, and in many cases, are as safe as tap water for drinking, although personal preference often determines they type of water chosen.

Spring water is also sometimes called artesian water, ground water or well water. Spring water may be accessed by a well, and it can be treated or not. In all cases, spring water is collected when it flows or arrives to the surface. Natural springs can form along the sides of hills and in valleys, and some people consider the natural filtration process of spring water to make for better tasting water that is richer in minerals.

Springs for spring water can form where there is any rock, with limestone being a common case in much of the United States. The soft texture of limestone makes it easy for the water to well through. Springs form when an underground aquifer is filled sufficiently high that the excess seeps through to the surface. While water from springs are often clear because they are filtered through rock, the mineral composition of the soil will affect the color.

As well, spring water can be safe to drink without any treatment, however, the quality of the water is not guaranteed. Bottled spring water is required to be tested and filtered for any sediment to meet EPA standards. More material about spring water can be found at this site: http://www.livestrong.com/article/548249-purified-water-vs-spring-water/

Spring water is the subject of many popular misconceptions. Many of those misconceptions are promoted through less than accurate advertising pitches. For example, many people believe that spring water is actually “pure” water. On the contrary, spring waters contain many of the same impurities found in drilled wells or even tap water. In fact, since springs feed rivers, there’s lots of spring water right in your own tap water! On average, the purity of spring water is roughly comparable to that of tap water. Some have lower TDS levels and some are much higher.

But is spring water “100% pure” as many spring water companies advertise? As it turns out, the “100% pure” refers not to the absence of impurities in the water, but to the source of the water itself. That is, 100% of the water in the bottle came from an underground source (i.e. a spring), rather than from a surface water. These cleverly worded phrases may be legally permissible, but many people find them to be misleading, to say the least.  Even more frightening is the fact that most people actually believe them.

Another adjective which frequently pops up in spring water advertising is “natural”. While this term may conjure up images of a pristine wilderness setting, the fact is that “natural” can mean just about anything. This vague term could actually apply to your local tap water since the closest river to your home or office is most certainly a “natural” source. It may be natural, but how many people who would go down to the river and scoop themselves a refreshing glass of “pure and natural” river water!

Spring water advertising is all about images – images of the mountains, streams and wildlife. What really happens to get that bottle of water to you is actually quite different from those images. Many, if not most, spring waters are not bottled at their source. Instead, the water is pumped into large tanker trucks for transportation to a bottling facility at a different location.

Remember, those “pristine” springs are being visited many times each day by large diesel tanker trucks – not exactly a “pristine” image. Health regulations dictate that the water in those tanker trucks be either chlorinated or ozonated at all times to protect against bacterial contamination. Additional info about this topic is found at this site: http://www.drinkmorewater.com/types-of-water .

At the end of the day, much of what is consumed in the bottled water industry comes down to personal preference and taste. Is spring water better than tap water? Maybe, or maybe not. That is for you to decide, and how much you are willing to spend on your next drink of cold, clear water on the go. If you’re like most Americans, you prefer convenience over cost.


Until next time.

2 comments:

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Debbie Grier said...

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