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Update: July 2013

We are pleased to report recent regulatory action based on NRDC's advocacy. Since the publication date, the FDA has agreed to more stringently regulate bottled water safety to NRDC's standards. Our two main recommendations, to test for and ban water sources contaminated with E. coli and to regulate the level of di(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate (DEHP) consistent with EPA regulations, are now in place.

This is the online version of NRDC's March 1999 petition to the FDA and attached report on the results of our four-year study of the bottled water industry, including its bacterial and chemical contamination problems. The petition and report find major gaps in bottled water regulation and conclude that bottled water is not necessarily safer than tap water. The online version contains all of the report's text, tables and figures; it does not include the accompanying Technical Report or additional attachments to the petition.

OVERVIEW & QUICK REFERENCE
Frequently Asked Questions [En Español]
News Summary of Our Findings [En Español]
Test Results: Bottled Water Contaminants Found

TABLE OF CONTENTS
Executive Summary
Chapter 1: Principal Findings and Recommendations
Chapter 2: Exploding Sales - Marketing a Perception of Purity
Chapter 3: Bottled Water Contamination - An Overview of NRDC's and Others' Surveys
Chapter 4: Gaping Holes in Government Bottled Water Regulation
Chapter 5: Misleading Bottled Water Labeling and Marketing
Chapter 6: Ensuring Consumers' Right to Know About Bottled Water
Appendix A: Bottled Water Contaminants Found
Appendix B: Documented Waterborne Disease From Bottled Water
Appendix C: Summary of State Bottled Water Programs
Report Credits and Acknowledgements

Test Results
Appendix A: Bottled Water Contaminants Found

Tables
Table 1: Key Differences Between EPA Tap Water and FDA Bottled Water Rules
Table 2: Selected Contaminants of Potential Concern for Bottled Water
Table 3: Summary of Lab Testing Protocols
Table 4: Selected Nitrate Levels Found in Bottled Waters
Table 5: Selected Synthetic Organic Compounds (Other Than THMS) in Bottled Water
Table 6: Comparison of Health Standards: Tap Water Versus Bottled Water
Table 7: Contaminants That Must Be Monitored in City Tap Water But Not in Bottled Water

Figures
Figure 1: U.S. Bottled Water Market, 1976-1997, Gallonage
Figure 2: Why People Drink Bottled Water
Figure 3: U.S. Bottled Water Market Share 1994
Figure 4: Contaminants Found in Bottled Water
Figure 5: Arsenic in Selected Bottled Waters
Figure 6: Significant Trihalomethane (TTHM) Levels in Bottled Water
Figure 7: Selected Heterotrophic Plate Count (HPC) Bacteria Levels in Bottled Water
Figure 8: Bacterial Growth in Two Bottled Waters

last revised 7/15/2013

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