Debating How Much Weed Killer Is Safe in Your Water Glass

A recent (8/22/08) article in the New York Times reveals that atrazine, a popular and commercially used weed killer has become “among the most common contaminants in American reservoirs and other sources of drinking water. New research now suggests that atrazine may be dangerous at lower concentrations then previously thought. Recent studies suggest that, even at concentrations meeting current federal standards, the chemical may be associated with birth defects, low birth weights and menstrual problems. And laboratory experiments suggest that when animals are exposed to brief doses of atrazine before birth, they may become more vulnerable to cancer later.

Anyway, more thirst quenching info can be found in the
Times article. But the question soon becomes “How now brown cow”. Does this reinforce our perception about the importance of drinking bottled water? But before you swallow, did you know that, for example, Coca-Cola’s Dasani and Pepsi’s Aquifina are nothing more then bottled tap water? Albeit, additionally filtered and often “enhanced with minerals (whatever that means?) for a pure, fresh taste”, according to a document and marketing plan by Coca-Cola and posted on Common Dreams titled “Just Say No to H20 (Unless it’s Coke’s Own Brew) A rather interesting and aggressive marketing initiative to force their Dasani brand water down our throats when dining out.

We wrote here recently about Nicolas Kristof’s excellent column,
“Chemicals and Our Health”. About the ubiquitousness of “phtalates”...finding their way into our lives via plastic bottles, cosmetics,, some toys, hair conditioners and fragrances. Many scientists have linked them to everything from sexual deformities in babies to obesity and diabetes. And now we’ve got this uplifting story about the vast water contamination (ok, let’s call it poisoning) with atrazine.

What are our choices? In an 18-month study, an
Environmental Working Group investigation of bottled water labels and websites found that over almost 200 popular bottled water brands, less then 2 percent disclose the water’s source, how the water has been purified, and what chemical pollutants each bottle of water may contain. Just 2 of the 188 individual brands the EWG analyzed disclosed those three basic facts about their water. The two bottled waters who disclosed water sources and treatment methods on their labels were Ozarka Drinking Water and Penta Ultra-Purified Water. And just 18% of bottled waters disclose quality reports with contaminant testing results. Among them, all 8 Nestlé domestic brands surveyed: Poland Spring, Nestlé Pure Life, Arrowhead, Calistoga, Deer Park, Ice Mountain and Zephyrhills. None of the top 10 domestic bottled water brands label specific water sources and treatment methods for all their products.

So aside from brands like Poland Spring and Evian, whose water comes from protected natural springs, I suppose the question is “Would you like some atrazine with your phthalates?” That’s certainly a mouthful for any restaurant waiter to ask.