Water is one of the vital nutrients to life. 2/3rd of the human body (by weight) constitutes water. It is needed for proper blood circulation, respiration, and convert food to energy. If you drink less water the body can get dehydrated. The blood becomes thicker and loses volume. This can cause poor circulation that can lead to early death. Hence, one must drink plenty of water even if they do not feel thirsty. While traveling, most of us prefer to carry or buy plastic water bottlesto quench our thirst. Plastic water bottles are most preferred as they are unbreakable. However, one must take note of the type of plastic used to make the bottle. Clinical studies have confirmed that the chemicals present in plastic bottles leach into the drinking water. These interfering toxins have been linked to causing cancer, cardiovascular ailments, and diabetes. People who are environmentally conscious are shunning plastic due to its non-biodegradable nature. One important thing to note is, plastic water bottles have been considered relatively safe until now. According to Martin Wagner, an ecotoxicologist associated with the Goethe University of Frankfurt, "plastic bottles may contain unidentified chemicals that can disrupt the functioning of estrogen and other hormones, especially those associated with reproduction".
A research conducted by Dr. Scott Belcher along with his team members revealed that the plastic bottles (polycarbonated) release environmental estrogen bisphenol A (BPA). These polycarbonated substances have been classified as endocrinic disrupters. These toxic chemicals affect our endocrine system and alter hormone secretions. Plastic bottles also contain PET or polyethylene terephthalate which is a carcinogenic agent. These chemicals are known to cause damage to the brain and fetus in the womb.
In developed countries, water systems and pipelines are well regulated. In many affluent countries like the USA, special environmental protection agencies such as the EPA, regularly inspect water quality for the presence of toxic chemicals and microorganisms. However, there are many instances where the water system was found to contaminate the bottling plant. And some bottled water is taken from local springs which might have chemicals that aren't always beneficial to us. Hence, it does not prove that bottled water is any less dangerous. At least, the governments of various countries take the responsibility of providing pure water to homes, but there is no criterion to detect whether the plastic bottled water is devoid of chemicals or toxic compounds. So it does not necessarily mean that bottled water is better than tap water.
According to recent surveys, around 1.5 million tones of plastic waste are generated by water bottles alone in a year. The Food and Water Watch states that this amount of plastic has been made out of 47 million gallons of oil produced every year. The plastic water bottles that store beverages are of high quality and hence are in great demand amongst the recyclers. However, more than 80% of plastic water bottles cannot be recycled and have to be thrown away. These empty bottles find their way to the garbage can and many of them spin for years in the currents of oceans and seas. Most of these littered plastic wastes ultimately end up at seas or oceans. Marine animals ingest or get tangled in theses plastic and die. This phenomenon seriously disturbs the ecological balance and causes immense harm to nature and other life in our environment.
One of the standards in the plastic industry whch is to be followed by all companies in the water or beverage category is to label the plastic used to make the bottle. This helps the consumer in identifying the type of plastic used. Before buying water bottles, one must check the plastic grade classification marked on the water bottles. Plastic bottles marked as #2 HDPE (high density polyethylene), #4 LDPE (low density polyethylene), or #5 PP (polypropylene) are safe for usage. Never refill the plastic bottle in which water is usually sold. Water bottles labelled plastic#1 should not be reused as the chemical DEHA, can leach into the water which is a known carcinogen as per the EPA. Though it hasn't been established firmly that DEHA causes cancer it is suggested to limit the use of PET water bottles due to the DEHA.
Rapid urbanization, increase in population, climatic shifts, and industrial pollution has made pure and fresh water a highly precious commodity. Taking advantage of this situation, many global corporations have entered the business of plastic bottled water. They have indeed struck gold as considerable revenue is generated through this venture. Merely, by gaining the groundwater distribution rights, many companies are churning money in huge amounts. The demand for water is only going to increase with the population and wars waged to get fresh water. This immense demand for fresh water has earned it the name "blue gold."