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EESA10H3 Lecture Notes - Chisso, Psychomotor Retardation, Dormans

Environmental Science
Course Code
Jovan Stefanovic

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Growing concerns of humans about the palatability of tap water and the possible adverse effects it has on
human health has been the target message bottled water companies are using in order to sell their products. The
bottled water industry has been growing at a rate of 10% every year with a current worldwide market of
approximately $35 billion and $5.7 billion of this market is in the U.S. alone (Raj, 2005).
Major gaps in the regulation of the safety of tap water in reservoirs can account for the distrust that
consumers have to tap water. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) once reported in 1996 that about 1 in
10 community tap water systems in the U.S. violated EPA's treatment standards, and 28% of tap water systems
violated significant monitoring and reporting requirements. The tap water of more than 32 million Americans
exceeded 2 parts per billion (ppb) arsenic and 80 to 100 million Americans drink tap water that contain very
significant trihalomethane levels (over 40 ppb) and still formerly pass their standards. With this in mind, the piped
connecting the municipal treatment plants to homes should not be disregarded as it can affect the safety of the
drinking water. Water from homes with old pipes has a higher metal count which can result from rusting and
corroding of the pipes. The high concentration of iron in these pipes can also facilitate bacterial growth. Lead,
copper, and arsenic, which can leak from and to pipes, also poses a huge risk to humans as intoxication to these
substances can lead to neurological disorders, circulatory and cardiovascular complications, and order system
disorders (Blaurock-Busch, 2009). The perceived purity and safety of bottled water can account for these high
numbers. In Canada, bottled water is regulated by Health Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and
these institutions treat it as food and therefore must comply with their standards and comply with the Food and
Drugs Act. It makes sure that the water is disinfected, treated, and monitored which have been effective throughout
the years as there has not been any major illnesses associated with bottled water consumption in Canada (Health
Canada, 2009). This is particularly important especially for those with compromised immune systems, such as
cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy, patients with Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and other immune
disorders and those particularly frail patients such as the elderly and newborns (Raj, 2005). Corporations also argue
that bottled water is an effective way of promoting healthy lifestyle as it is a portable and convenient way of
carrying water around. The increased benefit of water, as it is free from calories, caffeine, or sugars makes bottled
water an effective diet drink that can potentially battle obesity (Raj, 2005).
Minerals that are essential for human development are filtered in bottled water. Calcium Ca2+, Sodium Na+,
and Magnesium Mg2+ are some of the minerals that are not usually present in bottled water but are necessary in the
normal development of some body systems. The average North American consumes insufficient quantities of Ca2+
and Mg2+ and too much Na+. The study suggests that drinking tap water can fulfill between 8% and 16% of their
Ca2+ Daily Recommended Intake (DRI) and between 6% and 31% of their Mg2+ DRI by drinking 2 liters per day
(Azoulay, Garzon, & Eisenberg, 2001). Inappropriate handling of water bottles can lead to serious health
implications to humans. A study conducted by Sean Raj (2005) has shown that bacteria grow in the orifice of
bottles more rapidly which can endanger human health. Raj’s experiment showed that with just a sip from a plastic
bottle, microbes called oral microflora can proliferate in the bottle exceeding the 500 col/mL limit proposed by the
Natural Resources Defense Council and contaminate the water inside. The bacterial colonies increased to more
than 3000 col/mL in just 24 hours and 38 000 col/mL at 48 hours at 378 ºC. In sharp contrast to this study, tap
water had only minimal bacterial growth over the entire storage time which can be attributed to the presence of
various minerals and the chlorination of the water (Raj, 2005). Environmental damage caused by the production of
bottled water have been greatly publicized and criticized throughout the years. Gleick (Lewis, 2010) concluded that
the distribution and manufacture of plastic bottles is very energy demanding and it consumes the equivalent of
between 100 and 160 million barrels of oil in 2007 alone.
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