Gone are the days when we worried about being parched on long drives or days away from home. In most parts of the country, bottled water is readily available for the busy 21st century citizen to quench their thirst. And with popular brands making the taste more appealing through carbonation and flavoring, it can be tempting to forego the plain stuff for its modified versions.
Even if we regularly opt for plain bottled water, we may be lured in by “mineral water,” or “spring water” printed on the labels. But as with anything health-related, we should take a look at what bottled water is really offering us. Is it as good for our well-being as we’re led to believe?
And this also leads to the question: How does bottled water compare to filtered water?
When we take a closer look at what hides inside water bottles, we begin to see that bottled water isn’t as conducive to good health as we’ve been led to believe. Claims of better taste or extra benefits shouldn’t be taken at face value. Here are three common contaminants found in bottled water, and the threats they pose to human health. By examining these, it becomes apparent why filtered water is ultimately the best choice for our long-term wellness.
Microplastics, as the name suggests, are tiny plastic particles, which measure less than 5 millimeters in length. They’re the most common pollutant in our oceans, and are utilized in soap, synthetic fibers, and cosmetic beauty products.
These miniscule particles are present in our bottled water, too, and in no insignificant quantity. One study found that bottled water contained two times as many microplastics as tap water. Given the potential health effects of microplastics, this is concerning. Autopsy reports have found microplastic accumulation in the filtering organs of cadavers— liver, spleen, kidneys— and researchers speculate microplastics could cause inflammation that can become carcinogenic. Furthermore, microplastics have been found to alter the structure of lung cells. Concern is also arising in regards to microplastics’ impact on the gut microbiome, an area of the gastrointestinal tract that is still being understood, but which could play an integral role in much of our health.
Bisphenol A (BPA)
By now, chances are you’ve seen the term “BPA-free” listed on cans and water bottles. That’s because the notoriety of Bisphenol A (or BPA for short) has come to the attention of scientists, public health experts, and the general public, as a hazardous substance. And data has shown that 93% of individuals sampled had BPA in their bodies.
The health effects of BPA are numerous. More so than adults, the substance can be menacing to little ones. BPA is particularly dangerous for developing fetuses, infants, and children. Studies have found that it can damage their brains and prostate glands, and that it can also negatively impact children’s behavior.
Greasy fries and sugary foods aren’t the only culprit behind the most widespread diseases around the globe. BPA from bottled water may also be to blame. BPA has also been linked to diabetes, heart disease, and hypertension.
Finally, perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, known as PFAS, are a group of manufactured chemicals. Also known as “forever chemicals,” they’re found in common products such as cookware, clothes, and carpeting. But they’re also present in our water. Not just tap water, but bottled water, as well. Two common PFAS, PFOA/PFOS (perfluorooctanoic acid and perfluorooctane sulfonate) are the most scrutinized by scientists and activists alike for their pernicious nature.
Unfortunately, bottled water beverages enjoyed by millions aren’t free of PFOA/PFOS. In a Consumer Reports finding, high levels of PFAS were present in common carbonated water brands such as La Croix, Topo Chico, and Perrier. Even noncarbonated brands weren’t free of PFAS contamination. Deer Park and Tourmaline Spring, marketed as “natural spring water” and “sacred living water,” had an above average presence of PFAS.
PFAS have been under greater scrutiny in recent years for the damaging impacts they can have on an individual’s health. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has classified PFOA as a possible carcinogen. An epidemiological report also found that PFOA was associated with decreased vaccine response, preeclampsia in pregnant women, and high cholesterol. And studies on PFOA have linked it to dysfunctioning thyroid hormones.
Bottled water has become increasingly available in today’s day and age, with the global bottled market growing exponentially. However, this facet of convenience has come at a cost; a price paid in terms of adverse health outcomes. Microplastics, BPA, and PFOA/PFOS are the most pervasive substances found at the microscopic level when bottled water is examined, though the impact these chemicals have is anything but small. To take control of our wellbeing and prioritize our longevity, we can choose to consume filtered water.
Our filters at Aquagear have been specifically engineered to remove more than 99% of common contaminants found in bottled water such as microplastics, BPA, and PFOA/PFOS. The filters have been independently tested by an ANAB accredited laboratory, and are held to the highest standards. Additionally, Aquagear’s pitchers are BPA-free, so you can have peace of mind knowing that you aren’t being recontaminated. By using our products, you can protect yourself from harmful chemicals found in bottled water, and maximize your overall health.
Q: Now that we know how Aquagear compares to bottled water, how can we see the filters’ performance compared to tap water? And what other particles do Aquagear’s filters remove?
A: Our filters remove over 96% of other common contaminants such as chlorine and lead, which are found in tap water. That’s 2000% more contaminants than a traditional filter pitcher. You can see a full report here.
Q: What are other contaminants found in bottled water? And can Aquagear’s filters protect me from them, too?
A: The Environmental Working Group has found trihalomethanes and bromodichloromethane in leading water brands. Aquagear’s filters remove more than 99% of both of these substances.
- How to Remove Microplastics From Water. Retrieved from goaquagear.com (October 1, 2021)
- What are microplastics? Retrieved from oceanservice.noaa.gov (February 26, 2021)
- Bottled Water Has Twice as Many Microplastics as Tap Water: Study. Retrieved from globalcitizen.org (March 15, 2018)
- Autopsies Show Microplastics in Major Human Organs. Retrieved from webmd.com (August 17, 2020)
- Microplastics and human health: FSU researchers find exposure to microplastics may alter cellular function. Retrieved from news.fsu.edu (April 19, 2021)
- World health report raises concerns about microplastics in drinking water. Retrieved from cbsnews.com (August 21, 2019)
- Bisphenol A (BPA). Retrieved from niehs.nih.gov (March 5, 2020)
- What is BPA, and what are the concerns about BPA? Retrieved from webmd.com (May 14, 2021)
- Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). Retrieved from niehs.nih.gov (October 21, 2021)
- Understanding PFOA/PFOS: Protecting Your Home From “Forever Chemicals.” Retrieved from goaquagear.com (September 28, 2021)
- Technical Fact Sheet - Perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). Retrieved from epa.gov (November 2017)
- What’s Really in Your Bottled Water? Retrieved from consumerreports.com (September 24, 2020)
- Gloria B. Post, Perry D. Cohn, Keith R. Cooper. Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), an emerging drinking water contaminant: a critical review of recent literature. Environ Res. 2012 Jul; 116: 93-117.
- Health Effects Support Document for Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA). Retrieved from epa.gov (May 2016)
- Why eliminating PFAS in drinking water is a challenge in the US. Retrieved from cen.acs.org (July 13, 2020)
- U.S. bottled water market - statistics and facts. Retrieved from statista.com (February 12, 2021)
- Bottled Water Quality Investigation. Retrieved from ewg.org (October 15, 2008)