A new research has found that the environmental impact of bottled water is thousands of times worse than tap water due to resource extraction, and poses a greater health risk for the general population.
What is Happening?
- Bottled water is 3,500 times worse for the environment and natural resources than tap water, according to a new scientific study.
- The impact on ecosystems is also approximately 1,400 times higher.
- Researchers from the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal) have published a study focused on Barcelona, which has a population of around 1.35 million, and the health and environmental impacts of individual water consumption choices; namely bottled water, tap water and filtered tap water.
- The consumption of bottled water has been on the rise globally in the last few years. The upward trend can be attributed to risk perceptions, subjective taste and the lack of trust in the public tap water quality.
- “Tap water quality has increased substantially in Barcelona since the incorporation of advanced treatments over the last years. However, this considerable improvement has not been mirrored by an increase in tap water consumption, which suggests that water consumption could be motivated by subjective factors other than quality, ” said Cristina Villanueva, ISGlobal researcher and one of the authors of the study.
- Nearly 60% of people in Barcelona consume bottled water at least “some of the time”.
- The new report, which is published in Science of the Total Environment, uses a methodology called Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), which estimates an item’s damage to the environment during its lifespan, from the extraction of raw materials to manufacturing and disposal, and the Health Impact Assessment (HIA), which estimates indirect health impacts of water consumption choices.
- In the study, researchers estimate that if the entire population of Barcelona all drank bottled water, the bottling production could cost the loss of 1.43 species every year, and approximately USD$ 83.9 million annually for resource extraction.
- In comparison, the US current bottled water production and manufacturing requires 1.5 million barrels of oil, on top of the carbon emissions produced from transportation.
- The study also shows that due to the high quality of the tap water in Barcelona, the risk for health is small, especially when taken into account the overall impacts of bottled water. Adding domestic filtration to tap water would reduce that risk further.
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