Sunday, January 9, 2011

U.S. lowers limits for fluoride in water ~ all the more reason to use #tapwater!

Health officials said Americans get fluoride in so many sources now, such as toothpaste and mouth rinses, that it makes sense to lower levels in water.

from an article at Mother Nature Network

water from tap

HEALTHY SMILES: Water in the United States has been fluoridated since 1945 and the CDC says 196 million Americans get "optimally fluoridated community water." Experts estimate it cuts the rate of cavities by 40 percent to 60 percent. (Photo: jupiterimages)
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Government officials lowered recommended limits for fluoride in water on Friday, saying some children may be getting tooth damage from too much.

Fluoride is added to the water supply in most communities because it can prevent and repair tooth decay. But health and environment officials said Americans get fluoride in so many sources now, such as toothpaste and mouth rinses, that it makes sense to lower levels.
The Environmental Protection Agency and Health and Human Services Department lowered their recommended levels to 0.7 milligrams of fluoride per liter of water — the lower limit of the current recommended range of 0.7 to 1.2 milligrams.
Communities add fluoride to water on a voluntary basis. Doctors and dentists recommend it because it can help protect children's teeth that have not yet broken through the gums.
"There are several reasons for this change, including that Americans have access to more sources of fluoride than they did when water fluoridation was first introduced in the United States," the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a statement.
It said the EPA did a risk assessment study on whether some children may now get too much fluoride. The study concluded that some children under the age of 8 may be overexposed to fluoride at least occasionally because of their high fluid intake compared to their body weight or because of high natural levels of fluoride in their local drinking water.
Too much fluoride can cause a change in the enamel on teeth called dental fluorosis. More than 90 percent of cases appear as white spots on the tooth but in very severe cases it can pit the enamel.
"Excessive consumption of fluoride over a lifetime may increase the likelihood of bone fractures and may result in effects on bone leading to pain and tenderness, a condition called skeletal fluorosis," the CDC said. "Severe skeletal fluorosis is a rare condition in the United States."
Water in the United States has been fluoridated since 1945 and the CDC says 196 million Americans get "optimally fluoridated community water." Experts estimate it cuts the rate of cavities by 40 percent to 60 percent.
The CDC estimates every $1 invested in fluoridating public water supplies saves $38 in dental treatment costs.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

what's in your bottled water -besides water?

 from an article at Environmental Working Group
Pure, clean water.
That’s what the ads say. But what does the lab say?
When you shell out for bottled water, which costs up to 1,900 times more than tap water, you have a right to know what exactly is inside that pricey plastic bottle.
Most bottled water makers don’t agree. They keep secret some or all the answers to these elementary questions:
  • Where does the water come from?
  • Is it purified? How?
  • Have tests found any contaminants?
Among the ten best-selling brands, nine — Pepsi's Aquafina, Coca-Cola's Dasani, Crystal Geyser and six of seven NestlĂ© brands — don't answer at least one of those questions.
Only one — NestlĂ©'s Pure Life Purified Water — discloses its water source and treatment method on the label and offers an 800-number, website or mailing address where consumers can request a water quality test report.
The industry's refusal to tell consumers everything they deserve to know about their bottled water is surprising.
Since July 2009, when Environmental Working Group released its groundbreaking Bottled Water Scorecard, documenting the industry's failure to disclose contaminants and other crucial facts about their products, bottled water producers have been taking withering fire from consumer and environmental groups.
A new EWG survey of 173 unique bottled water products finds a few improvements – but still too many secrets and too much advertising hype. Overall, 18 percent of bottled waters fail to list the source, and 32 percent disclose nothing about the treatment or purity of the water. Much of the marketing nonsense that drew ridicule last year can still be found on a number of labels.
EWG recommends that you drink filtered tap water. You'll save money, drink water that’s purer than tap water and help solve the global glut of plastic bottles.
We support stronger federal standards to enforce the consumer's right to know all about bottled water.
Until the federal Food and Drug Administration cracks down on water bottlers, use EWG's Bottled Water Scorecard to find brands that disclose water source, treatment and quality and
that use advanced treatment methods to remove a broad range of pollutants.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

the work (and play) of unbottling your water

5 reasons not to drink bottled water

It's expensive, wasteful and -- contrary to popular belief -- not any healthier for you than tap water.
By Chris BaskindMon, Mar 15 2010 at 12:04 PM EST 143 Comments

BOTTLES, BOTTLES EVERYWHERE: Bottled water produces up to 1.5 million tons of plastic waste per year. (Photo: quinn.anya/Flickr)
Bottled water is healthy water — or so marketers would have us believe. Just look at the labels or the bottled water ads: deep, pristine pools of spring water; majestic alpine peaks; healthy, active people gulping down icy bottled water between biking in the park and a trip to the yoga studio.

In reality, bottled water is just water. That fact isn't stopping people from buying a lot of it. Estimates variously place worldwide bottled water sales at between $50 and $100 billion each year, with the market expanding at the startling annual rate of 7 percent.
Bottled water is big business. But in terms of sustainability, bottled water is a dry well. It's costly, wasteful and distracts from the brass ring of public health: the construction and maintenance of safe municipal water systems.
Want some solid reasons to kick the bottled water habit? We've rounded up five to get you started.
1) Bottled water isn't a good value
Take, for instance, Pepsi's Aquafina or Coca-Cola's Dasani bottled water. Both are sold in 20 ounce sizes and can be purchased from vending machines alongside soft drinks — and at the same price. Assuming you can find a $1 machine, that works out to 5 cents an ounce. These two brands are essentially filtered tap water, bottled close to their distribution point. Most municipal water costs less than 1 cent per gallon.
Now consider another widely sold liquid: gasoline. It has to be pumped out of the ground in the form of crude oil, shipped to a refinery (often halfway across the world), and shipped again to your local filling station.
In the U.S., the average price per gallon is hovering around $3. There are 128 ounces in a gallon, which puts the current price of gasoline at a fraction over 2 cents an ounce.
And that's why there's no shortage of companies that want to get into the business. In terms of price versus production cost, bottled water puts Big Oil to shame.
2) No healthier than tap water
In theory, bottled water in the United States falls under the regulatory authority of the Food and Drug Administration. In practice, about 70 percent of bottled water never crosses state lines for sale, making it exempt from FDA oversight.
On the other hand, water systems in the developed world are well-regulated. In the U.S., for instance, municipal water falls under the purview of the Environmental Protection Agency, and is regularly inspected for bacteria and toxic chemicals. Want to know how your community scores? Check out the Environmental Working Group'sNational Tap Water Database.
While public safety groups correctly point out that many municipal water systems are aging and there remain hundreds of chemical contaminants for which no standards have been established, there's very little empirical evidence that suggests bottled water is any cleaner or better for you than its tap equivalent.
3) Bottled water means garbage
Bottled water produces up to 1.5 million tons of plastic waste per year. According to Food and Water Watch, that plastic requires up to 47 million gallons of oil per year to produce. And while the plastic used to bottle beverages is of high quality and in demand by recyclers, over 80 percent of plastic bottles are simply thrown away.
That assumes empty bottles actually make it to a garbage can. Plastic waste is now at such a volume that vast eddies of current-bound plastic trash now spin endlessly in the world's major oceans. This represents a great risk to marine life, killing birds and fish which mistake our garbage for food.
Thanks to its slow decay rate, the vast majority of all plastics ever produced still exist — somewhere.
4) Bottled water means less attention to public systems
Many people drink bottled water because they don't like the taste of their local tap water, or because they question its safety.
This is like running around with a slow leak in your tire, topping it off every few days rather than taking it to be patched. Only the very affluent can afford to switch their water consumption to bottled sources. Once distanced from public systems, these consumers have little incentive to support bond issues and other methods of upgrading municipal water treatment.
There's plenty of need. In California, for example, the American Society of Civil Engineers estimated the requirement of $17.5 billion in improvements to the state's drinking water infrastructure as recently as 2005. In the same year, the state lost 222 million gallons of drinkable water to leaky pipes.
5) The corporatization of water
In the documentary film Thirst, authors Alan Snitow and Deborah Kaufman demonstrated the rapid worldwide privatization of municipal water supplies, and the effect these purchases are having on local economies.
Water is being called the "Blue Gold" of the 21st century. Thanks to increasing urbanization and population, shifting climates and industrial pollution, fresh water is becoming humanity's most precious resource.
Multinational corporations are stepping in to purchase groundwater and distribution rights wherever they can, and the bottled water industry is an important component in their drive to commoditize what many feel is a basic human right: the access to safe and affordable water.
What can you do?
There's a simple alternative to bottled water: buy a stainless steel thermos, and use it. Don't like the way your local tap water tastes? Inexpensive carbon filters will turn most tap water sparkling fresh at a fraction of bottled water's cost.
Consider taking Food and Water Watch's No Bottled Water Pledge. Conserve water wherever possible, and stay on top of local water issues. Want to know more? Start with the Sierra Club's fact sheet on bottled water.
Bottoms up!
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