Message in the bottle…

“I send an SOS to the world, I hope that someone gets my message in the bottle…” This sentence could be Dimassimo and Eric Yaverbaum’s refrain for the launching of their campaign to encourage the consumption of tap water. Their strategy, to collect bottles of water to inform and empower the common people about the environmental impact of plastic. Their message, “what’s tappening?”

Be fully aware of your options, bottled water, its environmental impact AND tap water and its human impact. This stream of knowledge flows, “l’eau de vie” (as this writer from France recalls, translated as “the water that sustains”)

On one side of the scale, bottled water represents 17 millions barrels of oil. Bottling produces more than 2.5 millions of carbon dioxide. According to the Container Recycling Institute 86% of plastic bottles used in the US becomes garbage or litter. When incinerated, its toxic by-products sand buried take as long as 1000 years to biodegrade!

On the other hand, “when microorganisms such as those that indicate fecal contamination are found in drinking water, water suppliers are required to issue “Boil water notices”. Boiling water for one minute kills the microorganisms that cause disease”. And this water still goes on your table for dinner! Enjoy and bon appetit!

What is the composition of your tap water? Our water comes mainly from large-scale water supply systems which rely on surface water systems that require more treatment because of their open air status. Improperly disposed chemicals, animal and human wastes, improperly treated or disinfected water will be the source of the composition of our water and its level of contamination. The human risk becomes microbial, chemical and often metallic if you live in an old building (presence of lead through the corrosion of plumbing materials). In what I precedently said two words piqued my curiosity treatment and disinfection. For the water to be first treated then disinfected the amount of preexisting contamination must be high!

So what does this miraculous treatment process consist in? To avoid any misunderstanding the treatment’s objective is to REMOVE contaminants. Water is subjected to coagulation (implying flocculation and sedimentation), an operation that separates the dirt particles from the water. Then filtered through layers of sand, gravel, charcoal, the water ends up in a bath of mixed chlorine, chlorinates or chlorine dioxide for an effective DISINFECTION! Hum…so tasty, delicate palates will appreciate!

Sensitive stomachs beware, the digestion will be hard! The EPA identified 600 chemicals in tap water formed as by-products of disinfection, tracked 220 million pounds of 650 industrial chemicals discharged to rivers and streams each year! The US Geological survey found 82 unregulated pharmaceuticals and chemicals in rivers and streams. Of the 141 unregulated contaminants (1998-2003), not so far ago, 52 were linked to cancer, 41 to reproductive toxicity, 36 to developmental toxicity and 16 to immune system damage. Sad chart but nonetheless realistic of our glorified tap water!

According to the EWG (Environmental Water Group), it will take 20 years and a financial investment of $53 billion to treat the nation’s water utilities to meet safety standards! Meanwhile forgive my obnoxiousness but I won’t contaminate myself consciously for Dimassimo and Yaverbaum’s prestige!

CHEERS! As I open a bottle of mineral water.

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