Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Walmart bottled water among 10 polluted brands, study finds


October 15th, 2008, 9:30 am · posted by Nancy Luna, Staff Writer and Blogger

(updated 12:30 p.m. with more comment from EWG, and statement from bottled water industry)

If the latest bottled water study was meant to scare consumers, then this one is sure to get the job done.

Washington D.C.-based Environmental Working Group released a report this morning stating that 10 popular U.S. bottled water brands contain mixtures of 38 different pollutants, including bacteria, fertilizer, Tylenol and industrial chemicals.

In many cases, some of the brands had levels “no better than tap water,” the report said.

“Americans paid $12 billion to drink 9 billion gallons of bottled water last year alone,” the watchdog group stated. “Yet, as EWG tests show, several bottled waters bore the chemical signature of standard municipal water treatment — a cocktail of fluoride, chlorine and other disinfectants whose proportions vary only slightly from plant to plant.”

The consumer watchdog group went on to name the two biggest brands that performed poorly in its study: Sam’s Choice sold by Wal-Mart Inc. and Acadia of Giant Food supermarkets.

The report did not list the other brands tested because it did not “want people to take away from the report that one bottled brand is safer than another,” said Bill Walker, a spokesman for the group’s California chapter.

EWG, instead, recommends consumers drink tap water, he said.

In California, Walmart’s bottled water bought in the San Francisco area was polluted with disinfection byproducts called trihalomethanes, which exceeded California limits for bottled water, the study said.

“Consumer confidence in the purity of bottled water is simply not justified,” the study concluded.

Both retailers defended their bottled water stating they meet health standards and requirements, according to an Associated Press report. The International Bottled Water Association called the EWG report faulty and misleading.

“The report provides results from of a market basket testing program that the EWG conducted on ten brands of bottled water in nine states and the District of Columbia. This is certainly not a representative sample of bottled water products, which the report acknowledges,” the trade group said.