By Dr. Mercola

You’ve probably heard a lot about bottled water. That it’s healthier for you than tap water, that it can replace your vitamins, that it’s really only tap water and how environmentally unfriendly it is.

With this type of conflicting information about water, it’s easy to get confused. Let’s see if we can help you cut through the clutter and lead you down the path to healthier water consumption.

Environmental Impact

There’s no sense in sugar-coating it. Bottled water is destructive to the environment. It is a fact that 67 million water bottles are thrown away each day.

That’s a staggering amount of waste considering only 10 percent of these water bottles are ever recycled. Despite the good reputation recycling has, this practice is not always best for the ecosystem as it is labor-intensive, costly and burns natural resources. Also, just because you are throwing your used water bottles into the recycling bin, it does not necessarily mean they are able to be recycled.

Another problem with bottled water is the incredible amount of fuel needed to transport these heavy loads of plastic (and sometimes glass) bottles to your local supermarket, home or office.

Where Your Bottled Water REALLY Comes From

About 40 percent of bottled water is nothing more than bottled tap water! So not only might you still be drinking all the chemicals you were trying to avoid in the first place, you may be exposing yourself to even MORE chemicals by drinking from plastic bottles….

The Dangers of Plastic

Drinking water from a plastic water bottle poses serious health risks to you and your family. Let’s take a look at some of these dangers  to give you a better idea of why bottled water is not the healthy choice you’ve been led to believe it is.

Plastic would obviously be an issue for most bottled waters but it also comes into play for home or commercially filtered waters, or even raw spring water in that you need a container to store your water before you consume it. Obviously the best container is glass because when you choose plastic you are potentially exposed to the following chemicals.

BPA – Bisphenol A or BPA is an estrogen-mimicking chemical that has been linked to a host of serious health problems including:

  • Learning and behavioral problems
  • Altered immune system function
  • Early puberty in girls and fertility problems
  • Decreased sperm count
  • Prostate and breast cancer
  • Diabetes and obesity

If you are pregnant or nursing, your child is also at risk. If you are feeding your baby or toddler from a plastic bottle, switch to glass to avoid BPA contamination.

Phthalates — Phthalates are widely used in the United States to make plastics like polyvinyl chloride (PVC) more flexible.

Phthalates are endocrine-disrupting chemicals that have been linked to a wide range of developmental and reproductive effects, including:

  • Reduced sperm counts
  • Testicular atrophy or structural abnormality
  • Liver cancer

Further, in experiments on rats, phthalates have demonstrably blocked the action of fetal androgens, which affects gender development in male offspring, leading to undescended testes at birth and testicular tumors later in life.

Studies have also found that boys whose mothers had high phthalate exposures while pregnant were much more likely to have certain demasculinized traits and produce less testosterone.

Yet another study found that pregnant women who are exposed to phthalates gave birth more than one week earlier than women who were not exposed to them.

Pharmacy in a Bottle — As mentioned above, about 40 percent of bottled water is tap water. This means you are not only exposed to  dangerous BPA from the bottle, you may also be exposed to a variety of water contaminants such as fluoride, chlorine, arsenic, aluminum, disinfection byproducts and prescription drugs.

Although you may have been told that disposing your unused prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) drugs in the garbage instead of down the toilet means this eliminates the threat of your water supply being contaminated, this is simply not true. Water that drains through landfills, known as leach rate, eventually ends up in rivers. Although not all states source drinking water from rivers, many do.

According to studies, human cells do not grow normally when exposed to even minute amounts of prescription or over-the-counter drugs.

Some drugs that were never meant to be combined are mixed together in the drinking water you consume every day. Millions of people have drug allergies. Are you one of them? If so, how do you know the unusual symptoms you’ve been exhibiting are not due to ingesting small doses of the drugs you’re allergic to from your bottled water?

Ticking Time Bomb

Though drinking bottled water directly from a store shelf poses serious health risks, leaving this bottled water in your car or strapped to your bike and exposed to the hot sun will cause even more serious chemical exposure. Ultraviolet rays from the sun or high temperatures will accelerate leaching of the plastic chemicals mentioned above into the water.

Adding to this health threat is a toxic substance called dioxin, which is also released into bottled water when it is left in the sun. Dioxin has been strongly linked to the development of breast cancer.

Health-conscious people like to transport filtered water from home to ensure a safe supply on the go. If you’re one of these individuals, using a glass or steel bottle instead will bypass the risks associated with carrying filtered water in plastic.

“Vitamin Water” – As Unhealthy as Soda

One of the biggest scams soda manufacturers have come up with is, “vitamin water”. The marketers for this cleverly disguised “health drink” take advantage of your growing interest in health and try to make you believe it can measure up to the vitamins and minerals in food. It can’t even come close.

In truth, vitamin water is one of the worst types of bottled water you can drink!

Most vitamin waters contain health-harming additives such as high fructose corn syrup, which is a primary cause of  obesity and diabetes, and food dyes that can wreak havoc on your physical and emotional health.

Don’t be fooled. Skip the vitamin water. If you eat a healthy diet and follow my comprehensive nutritional plan http://www.mercola.com/nutritionplan/index.htm , most of your vitamins will come from food. For more information about the health hazards of vitamin waters, please see this link.

Do Not Deliver

For years, you may have enjoyed the ease and convenience of having bottled water delivered straight to your door. The idea of being able to avoid the dangerous chemicals in tap water by having your very own water cooler full of fresh, mountain spring water to drink from may have seemed to good to be true.

Turns out, it was. Home water delivery is not an environmentally-friendly way to get the water you need.The plastic bottles they come in pose health risks that are less significant than the pint or quart water bottles as they have denser plastic and they typically are reused many times, unlike the smaller bottles.

Although some water home delivery companies will ship their water in glass, you still have no real idea where your water is coming from. Also, the load is that much heavier and requires that much more fuel to transport and heavy glass bottles can be difficult to manage and have been known to break and cut  seriously injure or even kill people.

The Truth about Fluoride

Tap water, and bottled water that originates from tap water, is loaded with fluoride. Though you may have been lead to believe this substance to be vital to the dental health of you and your family, this is simply not the case. Unfortunately, the belief that fluoride prevents cavities is a common misconception. In fact, the exact opposite is true.

As this  recent study done on children in India shows, fluoride is anything but a cavity fighter. Fluoride is a toxin that actuallyleads to an increased risk of cavities and can cause a wide range of health problems, including weakening your immune system and accelerating aging due to cellular damage.

One study, published in the September 2001 issue of International Journal of Pediatric Dentistry, found that South Africanchildren who drank water containing high levels of natural fluoride (3 ppm), had more tooth decay than children in other parts of South Africa who drank much lower concentrations (between 0.19 to 0.48 ppm). And fluoride-saturated American teenagers had twice the rate of cavities as the South African children drinking low levels of natural fluoride!

A new study in the