Opinion: Mineral water

POSTED: 07/2/12 9:57 PM

Bottled water is bad for the environment and also for disposable household income. Consumers take to bottled water for its perceived benefits, but they may have to rethink their position: there is increasing doubt about the perceived benefits of bottled water. In many cases it contains fewer minerals than ordinary tap water.
On Thursday the independent German Stiftung Warentest institute published the results of its research into the quality of 29 different non-carbonated mineral water-brands. Two third of these brands contain “little to very little” mineral substances, the institute concluded.
There is not enough calcium in the mineral waters to have any benefits for the bones and not enough magnesium to benefit the muscles. Two brands of mineral water from discount super Lidl even contained less minerals than the tap water in large cities like Berlin, Hamburg and Cologne. There were more serious findings as well.
The researchers found that twelve brands – among them Evian – contain germs that make it necessary to cook the water before it is consumed by babies, the elderly and sick people. Six brands contained acetylaldehyde. This is a taste spoiling substance that enters the water from the plastic material the bottles are made off.
In spite of all this non-carbonated mineral water is a trendy drink. Sales in Germany increased last year by 14 percent a trend that has also been observed in the Netherlands. But the bottom line is: consumers are better off drinking the much cheaper tap water.
The Belgian mineral water producer Spa obviously disagrees with the research results. “It does not matter whether the water contains a lot or little minerals,” commercial director Jean-Benoit Schramms said. “Spa has a low mineral content because of the rock near our sources. What matters is that mineral water has a natural purity and has not been treated with chemicals. That is something else than tap water.”
All the same: the term mineral water suggests that the water contains minerals. “There is not much to that image,” says Gertjan Medema, a professor in water quality and health at the Technical University Delft. “Anyway, people get their minerals and magnesium through their food. Tap water is not only cheaper, but it is also much more environmental friendly.” Medema says that, depending on the situation, tap water is between 30 and 1,000 times more environmental friendly as bottled mineral water.
The environmental friendliness of mineral water is not just about the water itself: it is expecially about the bottles in comes in. Volunteers taking part in the annual Coastal Cleanup in St. Maarten know all about this, because a large part of the garbage they collect consists of these empty water bottles.
Establishing that those plastic bottles are bad for the environment is one thing, improving the situation something else entiurely. Just think about the impotent approach to the phenomenon of single use plastic grocery bags. In March the parliament passed a motion that tasked the government to write legislation to ban these bags. That initiative finally came after years of pressure by public opinion and environmental organizations. And guess what: until this day it seems that no further action was taken.

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Comments (1)


  1. Patricia says:

    I buy Lidl Agua de Nascente bottled water..what I want know is does it contain Fluoride?