Most Americans make regular purchases of bottled water, making it a $9.2 billion dollar market annually. The FDA has some broad regulations for bottled water, and has established an allowable level of contaminants, including chemical, physical, microbial and radiological. Bottled water is also one of the few foods that the FDA has very little regulation for standard of quality.
Suppose in testing the bottled water it is below the level of standard, it can still go on the market. The only condition is that it contains a statement of quality, like contains excessive bromate, contains excessive bacteria, or contains excessive radioactive. The FDA doesn’t require bottlers to use antimicrobial agents in the bottles, so long as it is safe for consumption. Another interesting point is that bottled water plants are also assigned a low priority for inspection. It is estimated that 60 to 70 percent of the bottled water in the US is exempted from contamination limits because it is bottled and sold in the same state.
The Environmental Protection Agency, EPA has more stringent standards for tap water than the FDA does for bottled water. The EPA requires testing for big cities that collect water to test for parasites, giardia and cryptosporidium. In contrast, the FDA doesn’t require such tests. Phthalate, a toxic chemical produced in the making of plastic is not even tested for by the FDA. The EPA does test for it in tap water. The EPA also requires testing tap water for numerous, unregulated contaminates the may pose risks of cancer and other health concerns. And you guessed it the FDA has no such tests.
The Natural Resources Defense Council, NRDC conducted independent testing on 1000 bottles of water, on 23 different brands. Thier finding was that 22 percent of the water was contaminated, 17 percent exceeded unenforceable sanitary guidelines, 33 percent exceeded a state enforceable standard of bacterial or chemical contamination. The NRDC even found small amounts of arsenic in some bottles. If you wish to review the NRDC finds it can be found here: http://www.nrdc.org/water/drinking/bw/bwinx.asp
I don’t even know what “bromate” is, but if I saw a bottle of water with that on its label I would just assume it passed inspection, therefore it must be safe. I guess it depends on the amount of bottled water that you consume; the more you drink the more arsenic you could potentially be taking into your system. Oh the dilemma..