Choosing Bottled Water Wisely
While any time of year is a good time to consider starting an exercise program, most of us set at least one New Year’s resolution around health and fitness. An important aspect of any exercise program, including winter sports activities, is staying hydrated. Since bottled water easily accommodates the active lifestyle of today’s families, these products are an obvious choice when heading to the gym or out for a day of skiing. But are there really any differences between the various brands and types of bottled water?
Types of Bottled Water
While many consumers think of it as drinking water, bottled water is actually considered a food product in the United States. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) establishes regulations for public water supplies, but the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has responsibility for setting requirements for bottled water products. Contrary to many reports, bottled water products sold in the United States, including imported brands, are strictly regulated.
As part of the regulations, the FDA sets identity standards for many types of bottled waters. Below are descriptions of seven of the most common types of bottled water products available on the shelf today:
- Artesian Water: Artesian bottled water comes from a confined underground source. A well is drilled into the underground aquifer and the water is then pumped to the surface by the bottler.
- Drinking Water: Bottled drinking water comes from many different sources, including public water supplies. It generally undergoes filtration and disinfection.
- Fluoridated Water: Fluoridated bottled water contains either naturally occurring fluoride or fluoride which is added back into the water after treatment. Typically, the minimum fluoride presence is 0.8 mg/L.
- Mineral Water: Bottled water that is classified as mineral water contains at least 250 ppm total dissolved solids and originates from a protected underground water source.
- Purified Water: Purified bottled water products are produced through distillation, deionization or reverse osmosis. Such processing significantly reduces the mineral content (or total dissolved solids) of the original source water.
- Sparkling Water: Bottled water that contains, after treatment, the same amount of carbon dioxide that it did when it first emerged from the source.
- Spring Water: Bottled spring water comes from an underground formation where the water flows naturally to the surface of the earth.
There are no official FDA classifications for bottled water products described as “natural” or “pure,” so keep in mind that such words do not reflect the source, treatment or quality of the bottled water. Instead, make sure you look for one of the above referenced standards of identity on your favorite bottled water to be sure of its source.
About the Author
Cheryl Luptowski is the Public Information Officer/Home Safety Expert for NSF International, an independent public health and safety organization that certifies products and writes standards in the areas of dietary supplement safety, consumer products, toys, drinking water, and sustainability. Cheryl has been interviewed as a home expert in national print, online and radio and has authored many articles and fact sheets with tips for healthier living. She is the face behind “Ask NSF,” NSF’s online Q & A portal and she chairs the NSF Consumer Advisory Panel.