Bottled water is drinking water (e.g., well water, distilled water, or spring water) packaged in plastic or glass water bottles. Bottled water may be carbonated or not. Sizes range from small single serving bottles to large carboys for water coolers.
The global bottled water sales have increased dramatically over the past several decades, reaching a valuation of around $60 billion and a volume of more than 115,000,000 cubic metres (3.0×1010 US gal) in 2006. U.S. sales reached around 30 billion bottles of water in 2008, a slight drop from 2007 levels. The global rate of consumption more than quadrupled between 1990 and 2005. Spring water and purified tap water are currently the leading global sellers. By one estimate, approximately 50 billion bottles of water are consumed per annum in the U.S. and around 200 billion bottles globally.
Bottled water is often stored as part of an emergency kit in case of natural disaster. Commonly, disaster management experts recommend storing 1-US-gallon (3.8 L) of water per person, per day. This amount is intended to include water for drinking and cooking as well as water for hand washing, washing dishes, and personal hygiene. Factory-sealed containers of water have an indefinite shelf life, as long as they remain unopened and undamaged. The sell-by date is voluntarily and individually set by manufacturers to indicate the length of time that they believe the water will taste and smell fresh, rather than to indicate any issue of contamination or food safety.
Five billion gallons of bottled water were consumed in 2000, an increase of more than 200 percent from a decade earlier. Whether consumers drink more bottled water because it is an alternative to soda, or because it is convenient to do so is unclear, but one thing is certain: they are missing out on the valuable fluoride found in tap water, which helps to protect teeth from cavities, according to a study published in the January/February 2009 issue of General Dentistry, the Academy of General Dentistry's (AGD) clinical, peer-reviewed journal.
Researchers tested the fluoride content in more than 100 different samples of bottled water, which fell into six categories: distilled, drinking/purified, spring/artesian, mineral, fluoride-added and flavor-added. Of the total 105 samples, the fluoride concentrations in the majority of the samples fell below the U.S. government's recommended range of 0.7-1.2 parts per million (ppm), the ideal range to prevent cavities. Only five samples met the recommended range.
Receiving the appropriate amount of fluoride is critical to consumers' oral health -- especially children's oral health -- as it strengthens the teeth and protects them against cavities. Patricia Meredith, DDS, MS, FAGD, AGD spokesperson, advises parents to do their research before handing their child a water bottle.
"Parents should be in charge of how much bottled water their kids drink, in order to make sure that that they also receive the proper amount of fluoridated water that will keep their teeth healthy," says Dr. Meredith. Fluoride in toothpaste, water supplies and other oral hygiene products is one of the basics of keeping children's mouths healthy, Dr. Meredith adds. "With soda and energy drinks being as popular as they are, not to mention the attractiveness of sugary snacks, children's mouths are constantly fighting cavity-causing bacteria. Something as simple as drinking water from the tap is a no-nonsense and cost-effective way to prevent cavities."
The AGD supports the use of fluoride and adopted a position statement based on the Center for Disease Control's Recommendation for Using Fluoride, which states, "When used appropriately, fluoride is safe and effective in preventing and controlling dental caries. Regular use throughout life will help protect teeth against decay. All water supplies, including bottled water, should have appropriate fluoride levels. All fluoridated items, including toothpaste, should be used as recommended by your dentist."