Friday, March 24, 2006

The water fad: "But there's another water-related cultural trend that has gained near cult-status in the day-to-day lives of many Americans: bottled water. Today, half of all Americans drink bottled water. One in six drink only bottled water. The bottled water industry has doubled in the United States in the last decade. Today, supplying water is a $400 billion business, already 30 percent larger than the pharmaceutical industry.... What's more, bottled water is often not what it's marketed to be. Beverage corporations have spent hundreds of millions of dollars promoting bottled water as "pure," "safe," "clean," "healthy" and superior to tap water, while many popular brands actually come from our public taps. A Natural Resources Defense Council study found that bottled water is no more "pure" or safe than tap water. In the case of some brand-name waters that contain harmful contaminants like arsenic, it can be even less safe. In 2004, half a million bottles of Dasani were recalled in Britain after they were found to contain unsafe levels of bromate, a cancer-causing chemical. Today, bottled water is among the least regulated industries in the United States. Adding insult to injury is the astronomical markup to the consumer on each bottle of water. Ounce for ounce, bottled water is 240 to 10,000 times as expensive as tap water. Most branded bottled waters cost more than gasoline."

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