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FAQ on Water

How much bottled water is consumed in Canada?

According to a report on CBC (2008) “between 2002 and 2007, world consumption of bottled water jumped by 7.6 per cent per year, from 130.95 billion liters to 188.8 billion liters. The United States consumes the most bottled water on the planet (33.4 billion liters) while residents of the United Arab Emirates consume the most bottled water per capita (259.7 liters per person per year).

In Canada, bottled water consumption was estimated at 24.4 liters per person in 1999. By 2005, that had increased to about 60 liters per person, with sales worth $652.7 million. (CBC, 2008)

How can I tell the source of the water used for a bottled water?

In the case of a spring or mineral water, the label is required to provide information regarding the geographic location of the underground source of the water. There is currently no regulatory requirement that other types of bottled water declare the source of the water used for their manufacture. However, consumers can contact the bottled water manufacturer for detailed information on the source. (Health Canada, 2009)

Are there bacteria in bottled water?

Yes, there can be. Bacteria are found in most bottled waters sold for drinking purposes. Bottled water is usually disinfected to remove harmful microorganisms but this treatment is not intended to sterilize the water. Sterile water is normally reserved for pharmaceutical purposes, such as in contact lens solutions. (Health Canada, 2009)

Can bottled water cause illness?

Bottled water could potentially cause illness if the water used for its production was untreated or inadequately treated to remove any disease-causing organisms it contained. This risk would also exist if the same water was used in a community water system for delivery from the tap. Bottled water manufactured from an inadequately treated source would be in contravention of the Food and Drugs Act. (Health Canada, 2009)

Is bottled water safer than tap water?

Quality standards for bottled water and tap water are similar. Both bottled water and municipally distributed tap water that meet or exceed their required health and safety standards, are considered to be safe. (Health Canada, 2009).

Is it safe to reuse the bottles that water is sold in by filling them with tap water?

Health Canada does not recommend the reuse of single-use bottles because the reuse poses a potential microbiological risk if not cleaned properly. Studies on reusing single-use bottles have found that depending on the source of the water used and the general hygiene of the user, the growth of bacteria in the bottle can vary from negligible to potentially hazardous. Health Canada suggests that people use wide-necked bottles that can be thoroughly washed with hot soapy water between uses.

Frequently, the concerns regarding the re-use of single-use plastic bottles for drinking water have focussed on the safety of the plastic under these conditions. There have been claims that polyethylene terephthalate (PET or PETE) plastic used in single use water bottles breaks down when used repeatedly releasing cancer-causing chemicals. However, Health Canada has seen no scientific evidence to suggest that reusing PET bottles will contribute harmful levels of chemicals and toxins to the water. Health Canada has also concluded that the levels of Bisphenol A detected in water bottled in polycarbonate do not pose a health concern. (Health Canada, 2009)

What is the cost of drinking bottled water?

According to the USEPA, if an individual drinks their daily recommended 8 glasses of water per day from the tap, it will cost about 50 cents per year.  If they choose to drink it from water bottles, it can cost up to $1,400 US dollars.

What Canadian schools have banned bottled water?

Maclean’s reported that Bishop’s University was the first Quebec university to ban water bottles. The carbon footprint left by transporting bottled water, the fact that each plastic bottle requires twice its volume in water to make, were cited as reasons for the ban. (Jerema, 2010).

Students at Concordia University also voted to ban bottled water on campus (Serebin, 2011)

and other universities include: the University of Winnipeg, Brandon University, Queen’s University, Ryerson University, University of Ottawa, Memorial University of Newfoundland, Trent University, and Fleming College.