What happened to the days when you could TRUST a company not to misrepresent a product they touted as ‘pure’?

Our opinion: Those days died with the dinosaurs or they never really existed!

Looking for ways to cut back in these tough economic times? An environmental group suggests skipping the bottled water and drinking from the tap. It might even be healthier.

The Environmental Working Group says its tests how 10 popular U.S. bottled water brands contain mixtures of 38 different pollutants, including bacteria, fertilizer, Tylenol and industrial chemicals, some at levels no better than tap water.

Wal-Mart’s Sam’s Choice at several locations contained contaminants exceeding California’s bottled water quality standards and safety levels for carcinogens under the state’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act, according to the group’s laboratory tests. Giant Foods’ Acadia brand consistently retained the high levels of cancer-causing chlorination byproducts found in the suburban Washington DC tap water from which it is made.

Overall, the group says the test results strongly indicate that the purity of bottled water cannot be trusted.

“It’s buyer beware with bottle water,” said Jane Houlihan, Vice President for Research at EWG. “The bottled water industry promotes its products as pure and healthy, but our tests show that pollutants in some popular brands match the levels found in some of the nation’s most polluted big city tap water systems. Consumers can’t trust that what’s in the bottle is anything more than processed, pricey tap water.”

“For years the bottled water industry has marketed their product with the message that it is somehow safer or purer than tap water,” said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of the non-profit consumer advocacy group Food & Water Watch. “This new report provides even more evidence that the purity of bottled water is nothing more than a myth propagated to trick consumers into paying thousands times more for a product than what it is actually worth.”

EWG said that laboratory tests it commissioned at one of the country’s leading water quality laboratories found 38 contaminants in ten brands of bottled water purchased from grocery stores and other retailers in nine states and the District of Columbia.

The pollutants identified include common urban wastewater pollutants like caffeine and pharmaceuticals, an array of cancer-causing byproducts from municipal tap water chlorination, heavy metals and minerals including arsenic and radioactive isotopes, fertilizer residue and a broad range of industrial chemicals. Four brands were also contaminated with bacteria.

Unlike tap water, where consumers are provided with test results every year, the bottled water industry does not disclose the results of any contaminant testing that it conducts, EWG said.

Americans paid $12 billion to drink 9 billion gallons of bottled water last year alone, EWG said. Yet, the tests show several bottled waters bore the chemical signature of standard municipal water treatment–a cocktail of fluoride, chlorine and other disinfectants whose proportions vary only slightly from plant to plant. In other words, some bottled water was chemically almost indistinguishable from tap water.

The only striking difference, the group says, is the price tag. The typical cost of a gallon of bottled water is $3.79–1,900 times the cost of a gallon of public tap water. (source article)

So what can YOU do to help make sure the water you consume does not contain harmful chemicals? Simple: Learn everything you can about the source your water comes from. If it comes from a bottle, read the bottle label and research the company that did the bottling. By law they must divulge the source of their water and you may find out that they merely take water from their own local (municipal) water supplier, run it through an activated carbon filter, bottle it, and ship it to you.