Booting the Disposable Bottle in Favor
of Filtering — What You Need to Know
By Annette Deming
Advances in filtering technologies vastly improve taste and water quality beyond bottled water and traditional countertop filters, like putting a modern water treatment plant into the hands of millions while reducing landfill waste.
Perhaps it’s only fair to call us a nation of “bottle babies,” considering that Americans drink more water from bottles than any other nation, purchasing 60 million bottles a day in 2007. Can one blame us, though? On the face of it, what could offer a more healthful alternative? A lot, as it turns out.
Bottled water, routinely sold in clear plastic bottles, comes under fire on several fronts these days. Not only have tests proven that this product often falls short of ordinary tap water, in terms of contaminants, but the manufacturing and transfer of the bottles consume millions of gallons of oil.
Adding insult to injury, as much as 50% of the “empties” or 30 million bottles a day end up polluting landfills as they leach chemicals into the groundwater for the next 1,000 years.
Yet, as 75% of the water we consume is away from home, we still need a portable, ever-ready, source of clean water. But as surely as technology has improved almost every aspect of our lives, so has it come to our rescue in the form of advanced filtration.
So effective and so portable are these new filtration systems that they turn a
24-ounce, reusable hard-plastic container into a mini-water treatment plant that
far exceeds any previous filtering system in terms of producing great-tasting,
clean water. At far less cost than bottled water, this win-win solution even
stands to reverse the tide of clear plastic bottles littering the nation.
WHAT YOU CAN'T SEE CAN HURT YOU
At first glance, a clear plastic bottle filled with translucent agua appears so healthy. A picture of a mountain or glacier on the label reinforces this image. A December, 2005, report by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) in San Francisco found that tap water in 42 states was contaminated with more than 140 unregulated chemicals that lack safety standards. But one look under a microscope reveals the truth about what lies within the bottle.
As if what comes out of the faucet wasn’t bad enough — by some accounts, the risk of cancer among people drinking chlorinated water and its by-products is more than 44% higher than among those who drink water that does not contain chlorine — the regulation and enforcement of bottled water safety, in many cases, may be actually weaker than that for tap water.
Up to 70 percent of all bottled water produced and sold within the U.S. is exempt from FDA regulation. Akin to having the fox watch the hen house, most safety testing of bottled water is performed by the bottling companies themselves.
No surprise, then, that studies by the Natural Resources Defense Council found that approximately one-third of tested bottled water brands violated an enforceable standard or exceeded microbiological-purity guidelines. Common contaminants included arsenic, synthetic organic carcinogens and E. coli. bacteria, while 20% of the samples contained neurotoxins and carcinogens such as styrene, toluene and xylene.
That is not the half of the problem, though. The clear plastic bottle that most water comes in has a dark side unto itself. Commonly referred to as PET (polyethylene terephthalate), this material poses the potential to leak antimony — used in its manufacture — into the water it houses. This toxic metal can cause gastrointestinal disorders, and its concentration within water increases linearly with the duration of contact and stored temperature.
It’s not just antimony we have to fear, either. One 2003, Italian study found
that the amount of di-2-ehtylhexyl phthalate, an endocrine disrupter and
probable human carcinogen, increased in water after nine months of storage in a
EARTH FIRST — WE'LL TRASH THE OTHER PLANETS LATER
Who among us ever stops to weigh the cost to the environment as we Americans annually consume 26 billion liters (2004) of bottled water? But when we consider that it takes more than 47 million gallons of oil to produce the two million tons of plastic water bottles each year, and each bottle requires nearly five times its volume in water to manufacture the plastic, some semblance of guilt should set in.
Then there's the consumption of millions of gallons of gasoline wasted in transporting the plastic water bottles from the bottler to the retailer. The environmental damage even continues after the fact, as the Container Recycling Institute reported that of the 14 billion water bottles sold in the U.S. in 2004, only one-third were recycled. The other 66% ended up in landfills.
Despite all this, it seems we're more than willing to pay for the privilege to drink contaminated water and pollute the environment. The bottled water business is growing in the U.S. by 8%-15% annually, despite the fact that at up to $5.00 per gallon, bottled water costs more than gasoline.
So from where comes the redemption?
FILTERS — THE FINAL FRONTIER
While giving up a lot in convenience and effectiveness, early iterations of the typical carbon-type water filter have done a yeoman's job of purifying water for years, up to a point. These traditional carbon-type filters manage to provide somewhat better tasting and less odoriferous water than tap, but that's not saying much.
Aside from eliminating at least 96% of the chlorine in tap water, they also do a pretty good job of improving taste and odor, and removing such contaminants as sediment, benzene, mercury and lead. But that's about it.
That's not enough. As evidenced by EWG and Natural Resources Defense Council reports, with 140 unregulated chemicals identified in city tap water, many contaminants continue to slip through. A recent report from Ralph Nader estimated that risk even higher, stating 2100 toxic chemicals pollute our drinking water supplies.
The breakthrough in filtering out many of these other contaminants comes in the form of a high-tech unit called the Ionic Adsorption Micron Filter, a tradename of Seychelle Environmental Technologies, Inc (SYEV). This San Juan Capistrano, CA-based company developed the "micron" filter specifically to address the need for low-cost portable water filtration containers for challenging conditions throughout the world.
The company has already sold over two million portable bottles to customers like the International Red Cross, U.K. Army, world missionaries, Child Rescue, the U.S. Marines and the Kenya Wildlife Service.
The micro-porous plastic body of the proprietary Seychelle filter contains thousands of interconnected omni-directional pores, each one a minute two microns in size and arranged in a long, zig-zag configuration.
Any contaminant that manages to squeeze through the tiny openings must run a torturous path to get to the other side. Few, if any, make it, as the filter is impregnated with several different adsorbing media — the most important being finely-granulated, powder activated coconut. This unique combination coordinates all processes of contaminant reduction via adsorption, absorption, chemical bonding, chelation, and depth filtration.
The output is great-tasting, clean water far exceeding that possible from traditional filters, as the Seychelle filter currently represents the only portable water filtration system capable of up to 99.99% reduction in all four recognized areas of contamination:
A) Aesthetics: unpleasant taste and odors, cloudiness, silt, sediment, chlorine, and chlorine by-products; B) Biological: harmful microscopic pathogens such as Cryptosproidium, Giardia, E-Coli and Anthrax;C) Chemical: industrial volatile organic compounds, PCBs, detergents, chloroform, pesticides and others; and D) Dissolved Solids: including heavy metals like aluminum, asbestos, arsenic, cadmium, chromium 6, copper, lead and mercury. This type of filter is also singularly unique in its ability to remove cancer-causing Radon 222.
Of course, all of this effectiveness could be for naught if it weren't for the fact that these filters are small enough to fit into a handy, easy-to-use portable bottle. Manufactured of number-4 (indicating it does not leach) low-density FDA-approved food-grade polyethylene, these lightweight bottles can be re-used indefinitely — hence they spare the landfills of additional waste. Sizes from 18 to 28 ounces accommodate the need for water on the go.
In keeping with one of the main advantages of all filters, advanced filters
yield clean water at a low cost of approximately 30 cents per gallon, far below
that of bottled water.
A CONVENIENT TRUTH
With knowledge of today's advanced filters, Americans can have it all: great-tasting, ultra-clean water surpassing that of bottled water or traditional filters; portability to enjoy clean, healthy water wherever; low-cost; and unlimited supply — just turn on the tap and replace the filter every 100-200 gallons (depending on use).
Best of all, technology has given us a solution that actually benefits the
environment. Landfill volumes will be reduced; less oil and water will be
consumed as the use of PET bottles decreases; less gasoline will be burned in
the unnecessary transport of bottled water, while consumers save lots of money!
Looks like we just might be weaned from our disposable bottle water habit after
For more information, contact Seychelle Environmental Technologies, Inc., 33012 Calle Perfecto, San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675; (949) 234-1999. Please visit: www.seychelle.com
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