Mental Floss

Tuesday Turnip

David K. Israel

It's time for another whimsical Tuesday Turnip search wherein I type a random phrase and we see what kind of interesting factoids "turn-up."

Today I typed in "bottled water facts" unearthing the following information from a whole host of different sites:

  • Bottled water -- a $22-billion industry -- is the fastest growing beverage industry in the world. Close to half of the U.S. population drinks bottled water on a regular basis, despite the fact that it can be up to 1,000 times more expensive than the tap.
  • A bottle that holds 1 liter of water requires 5 liters of water in its manufacturing process
  • Aside from the huge environmental strain, these imported waters are expensive for purchasers. It's estimated that a $1.50 bottle of water costs just $0.22 to produce and deliver, leaving $1.28 per bottle in profits.
  • About one-quarter of U.S. bottled water comes from a municipal water source.
  • The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) conducted a study of 103 brands of bottled water (over 1,000 bottles were tested in all) and found that one-third contained synthetic organic chemicals and bacteria.
  • One sample even contained arsenic levels above state health limits.
  • The NRDC maintains that city tap water is required to undergo more rigorous testing and has higher purity standards than bottled water.
  • City tap water can have no confirmed E.coli or fecal coliform bacteria. FDA bottled water rules include no such prohibition (a certain amount of any type of coliform bacteria is allowed in bottled water).
  • Most cities using surface water have had to test for Cryptosporidium or Giardia, two common water pathogens, that can cause diarrhea and other intestinal problems, yet bottled water companies do not have to do this.
  • The plastic bottles in which bottled water is typically sold are made of plastic polyethylene terephthalate, or PET. The manufacture of these bottles can release phathalates, which have been found to cause birth defects in animals, into the environment.
  • Perrier Vittel-a division of Nestlé S.A., the world's largest food company-is the largest bottled water company in the world. Perrier Vittel serves customers in 140 countries on five continents with more than 70 bottled water brands. Its major competitor, the DANONE Group, whose brands include Evian and Volvic, holds the number two spot worldwide in bottled water.