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Bottled Water: Is it better for you? What about the environment?


beecee
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Let me say from the beginning, I don't drink, bottled, filtered or boiled water. Straight from the tap for this little vegemite!

In saying that, my Mrs and young bloke do drink exclusively bottled water!

I found the following article I would like comments on...................

https://phys.org/news/2021-08-environmental-impact-bottled-higher.html

Environmental impact of bottled water up to 3,500 times higher than tap water

by Barcelona Institute for Global Health:

What is the best option for individual water consumption if we take into account both health and environmental impacts? The answer to that question, according to a new study led by the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal), a center supported by the "la Caixa" Foundation, is that, at least in the city of Barcelona, tap water is the option that offers more overall benefits.

extract:

Results showed that if the whole population of Barcelona decided to shift to bottled water, the production required would take a toll of1.43 species lost per year and cost of 83.9 million USD per year due to extraction of raw materials. This is approximately1,400 times more impact in ecosystems and 3,500 times higher cost of resource extraction compared to the scenario where the whole population would shift to tap water.

In this sense, the results estimate that a complete shift to tap water would increase the overall number of years of life lost in the city of Barcelona to 309 (which equals approximately on average two hours of lost life expectancy if borne equally by all residents of Barcelona). Adding domestic filtration to tap water would reduce that risk considerably, lowering the total number of years of life lost to 36.

"Our results show that considering both the environmental and the health effects, tap water is a better option than bottled water, because bottled water generates a wider range of impacts," says Cathryn Tonne,

more at link................

the paper:

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0048969721039565?via%3Dihub

Health and environmental impacts of drinking water choices in Barcelona, Spain: A modelling study:

 

Highlights:

•Quantified health and environmental tradeoffs of drinking water choices
•Novel approach integrating health impact and life cycle assessment
•Environmental impact of bottled water 1400–3500 higher than tap water
•Local health burden of tap water consumption equivalent to 2 h of life lost
•Filtered water considerably reduced health and environmental impacts.

Abstract:

Quantitative evidence of health and environmental tradeoffs between individuals' drinking water choices is needed to inform decision-making. We evaluated health and environmental impacts of drinking water choices using health impact and life cycle assessment (HIA, LCA) methodologies applied to data from Barcelona, Spain. We estimated the health and environmental impacts of four drinking water scenarios for the Barcelona population: 1) currently observed drinking water sources; a complete shift to 2) tap water; 3) bottled water; or 4) filtered tap water. We estimated the local bladder cancer incidence attributable to trihalomethane (THM) exposure, based on survey data on drinking water sources, THM levels, published exposure-response functions, and disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) from the Global Burden of Disease 2017. We estimated the environmental impacts (species lost/year, and resources use) from waste generation and disposal, use of electricity, chemicals, and plastic to produce tap or bottled drinking water using LCA. The scenario where the entire population consumed tap water yielded the lowest environmental impact on ecosystems and resources, while the scenario where the entire population drank bottled water yielded the highest impacts (1400 and 3500 times higher for species lost and resource use, respectively). Meeting drinking water needs using bottled or filtered tap water led to the lowest bladder cancer DALYs (respectively, 140 and 9 times lower than using tap water) in the Barcelona population. Our study provides the first attempt to integrate HIA and LCA to compare health and environmental impacts of individual water consumption choices. Our results suggest that the sustainability gain from consuming water from public supply relative to bottled water may exceed the reduced risk of bladder cancer due to THM exposure from consuming bottled water in Barcelona. Our analysis highlights several critical data gaps and methodological challenges in quantifying integrated health and environmental impacts of drinking water choices.

 
Edited by beecee
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23 hours ago, beecee said:

What is the best option for individual water consumption if we take into account both health and environmental impacts?

I think  it is quite clear that the environmental impact is worse using bottled water. Production of bottles, resulting plastic waste and transport alone would have a negative impact that tap water does not have. I think studies looking at home water purification systems still show there will be net savings with respect to carbon footprint over buying bottled water.

When it comes to health, it would depend whether one lives in an area where water quality is really poor. A lot of bottled water is in fact tap water, so fundamentally there is little difference. 

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  • 2 months later...

I drink nothing but bottled water. Not because the water in the mains is bad here, but because the local pipes are bad. They have been improved, but I'm in the habit of bottled water now. 

Having said that, I bottle the water myself, from one of the famous Malvern Springs. I have three 25 litre containers that I fill at one visit, and I store them in the dark, and fill smaller bottles from them. So I'm not consuming plastic or generating waste. But I do drive to Malvern to fill up. It's a scenic run, and I would do that now and again anyway. 

The Malvern springs are tested for bacteria levels regularly, and occasionally they hang a notice on the outlet advising that you boil it. But I never have, and have never suffered any effects. Malvern water is extremely low on dissolved solids, quite close to distilled.

You can get hand-held water filters now, that will filter water from a stream or puddle, and make it safe to drink. For about £50 at sports and camping outlets. They remove 99.999 percent of bacteria, or so they claim. I haven't got one, but I'm tempted. They are supposed to be everlasting, and do a litre in less than a minute. You just fill up a strong polythene bag, attached to the filter, and squeeze the water through by hand. Or you can hang it up and let gravity do it for you. 

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A good filter should mitigate whatever health problems arise from tap water.

Refilling glass bottles is obviously miles better than single-use plastic. 

And no municipal government should be allowed to get away with serving an entire city's population through "bad pipes". Not everyone can afford to install a good filter or buy bottle water all the time. If there is a health hazard from the public water supply, it should be addressed and rectified, rather than spent-around by the taxpayers.

We're lucky enough to live in the country and have a well that satisfies all our needs, including garden watering. Every spring, we take a sample to the local health authority and get a free test for bacteria. It has happened, rarely, that I went out without my flask and had to buy a bottle of water. We do, however, buy distilled water for the solar batteries, and since i stopped making wine, can't always find another use for the gallon jugs.

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41 minutes ago, Peterkin said:

And no municipal government should be allowed to get away with serving an entire city's population through "bad pipes".

On occasions when work is being done on water pipes etc, we get ample warning...I just fill up a jug before work starts.

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56 minutes ago, beecee said:

On occasions when work is being done on water pipes etc, we get ample warning...I just fill up a jug before work starts.

That was the reason  @mistermack gave for drinking bottled in the first place. Some cities have chronic problems with their filtration system or distribution capacity because of rapid growth or outmoded infrastructure or contamination from industry or agriculture. It's not easy - or cheap - to supply wholesome water to millions of people. North America is lucky enough to have plenty of natural sweet water - but has done a really crappy job of keeping it clean. On the whole, municipalities (with some notable exceptions, like Flint MI and Walkerton ON) have managed quite well.

I don't see any justification for transporting water from Europe. (I saw some from Poland the summer after Chernobyl. I didn't drink any; have only two legs and most of my hair.)

(This is the first time I wish I could import my full avatar pic....)

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1 hour ago, Peterkin said:

That was the reason  @mistermack gave for drinking bottled in the first place. Some cities have chronic problems with their filtration system or distribution capacity because of rapid growth or outmoded infrastructure or contamination from industry or agriculture. It's not easy - or cheap - to supply wholesome water to millions of people. North America is lucky enough to have plenty of natural sweet water - but has done a really crappy job of keeping it clean. On the whole, municipalities (with some notable exceptions, like Flint MI and Walkerton ON) have managed quite well.

I don't see any justification for transporting water from Europe. (I saw some from Poland the summer after Chernobyl. I didn't drink any; have only two legs and most of my hair.)

(This is the first time I wish I could import my full avatar pic....)

I think you just need to lower the resolution of the image - downsample.

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1 hour ago, StringJunky said:

I think you just need to lower the resolution of the image - downsample.

Thanks. But I have no clue how bring it from there to here. This is completely off topic... is there a back room to discuss technical matters?

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8 hours ago, Peterkin said:

That was the reason  @mistermack gave for drinking bottled in the first place. Some cities have chronic problems with their filtration system or distribution capacity because of rapid growth or outmoded infrastructure or contamination from industry or agriculture.

As it may happen once every 12 months or so, I'll stick to the normal everyday, sweet,proven taste of tap water.

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The bad pipes I mentioned are very local. The city itself has perfectly good water. And like I said, they have made improvements, but I still prefer the spring water. I live in a hard water area, but the Malvern springs I believe come out of ancient volcanic rock. Anyway, the tea tastes better with it.

My parents had a farm in Ireland in the west, and there was a well that they drew their water from. The tea over there always tasted much better, for some reason. It's a peaty soil area, maybe that's got something to do with it. It works for whiskey anyway. 

Edited by mistermack
sppelling
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