Pollutants in Bottled Water

Bottled water is often marketed with images of purity and nature to impart an image of health. Consumers might not realize that the water they are paying a premium for maybe not purer than the water that flows from their kitchen faucet.

Some bottled water comes from municipal water supplies—the same water that you use to cook with or wash your laundry at home—and contain many of the same impurities. Contaminants from the plastics used to bottle water can also leach into the liquid, adding to the chemical load.

Disinfection Byproducts

The Environmental Working Group states that it has found a group of disinfection byproduct chemicals in bottled water it tested from several brands, including Wal-mart’s Sam’s Choice water. One group of chemicals detected is known as trihalomethane.

Chloroform is a trihalomethane listed as a carcinogen by the U.S. Toxicology Panel and California’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act. Chloroform is considered safe at levels of 10 ppb (parts per billion) and tested bottled water had levels as high as 31 ppb. Another group of disinfection chemicals called halocetic acids were also detected by the EWG. These can produce metabolic disturbances and cancer, according to the group. (See reference 1, page 3)


The Natural Resources Defense Council, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving health and environmental issues, informs that some bottled water it tested was contaminated with phthalates. Phthalates are synthetic chemicals used to make plastic softer.

They are found in cosmetics, fragrances, and household products. A Reader’s Digest article called “Bottled Water vs. Tap Water” by Janet Majeski Jemmott explains that they have adverse affects on the endocrine system because they block or mimic hormones. This affects normal body functions and might cause male fetuses to have malformed reproductive organs and low sperm count in adults. (See reference 2, page 1)

Bisphenol A

A committee at the National Institutes of Health found that bisphenol A, otherwise known as BPA, can cause serious health effects. The chemical is found in polycarbonate, which is used to manufacture water cooler jugs and some water bottles.

BPA can contribute to neurological and behavioral problems in children and unborn babies. The female reproductive system, immune system, and brain might also be affected by exposure in adults. Keeping a water bottle in a warm environment can cause more chemicals to leach into the water. Keep your water bottles in a cool environment to reduce your risk of exposure to chemicals such as BPA. 

Post navigation