Wed, May

Bottled Water Scare - How Can You Know What’s Safe?

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Worse still is that this is not America’s first tryst with sullied drinking water. In April 2014, the Flint, Michigan water crisis ...

In recent news all over the United States, it has been discovered that certain brands of bottled water contain arsenic, a substance that can be deadly in humans. These brands are Starkey Water and Penafiel. According to news reports they were sold at Target, Wal Mart and Whole Foods.

The arsenic was discovered by the Center for Environmental Health, and it is through their testing procedures that the arsenic was discovered. Without their intervention, thousands of people would have been drinking contaminated water, and suffering the consequences, as arsenic is extremely dangerous. It is often used in rat poisons, and in humans, it can cause reproductive harm, a variety of cancers, and even death.

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The findings are certainly disappointing as well as scary, and it leaves consumers in a bind as to which brand of bottled water is the safest.

 Even though the United States is one of the richest countries in the world, and technological advancements have soared to new extremes, clean water is still not a given, whether it comes from the tap, or in a plastic bottle. How is it that humanity -- American scientists in particular -- have found a way to explore Mars, an entirely different planet than our own, but clean water is not accessible to all on this planet, even if they live in one of the most privileged nations?

Worse still is that this is not America’s first tryst with sullied drinking water. In April 2014, the Flint, Michigan water crisis swept the nation by storm. In this particular instance, water became poisoned after the city of Flint switched the water supply from Detroit water to the Flint River. What would possess them to do that, when it’s a known fact that the Flint River is roiling with carcinogens? A cheaper alternative is not always the better alternative, a fact many American corporations have yet to realize. In their quest to get the biggest bang for their buck, nearly 90 people contracted Legionnaires’ Disease, a severe form of pneumonia. Twelve of those people died. And even today, over 5 years later, there are many who say that the crisis still isn’t over. Miss Michigan, who represented her state in the Miss America pageant, called attention to it during her time on the stage, saying Flint still didn’t have clean water.

Flint still has contaminated water, bottled water is riddled with arsenic, and almost every single day in America, something is recalled. Every day, food, drinks, toys, dressers, cleaners -- anything you could possibly think of, is being pulled off shelves because of the likelihood that they contain or may contain something hazardous. Bits of glass have been found in yogurt and so has metal bits and plastic in beef patties. Lettuce has been recalled countless times because of E. Coli contamination; eggs for salmonella. Even baby rockers have been pulled off the market because they killed the same babies that they promised they would put to sleep. This problem, nameless and expansive, has grown fingers long enough to reach the corners of every industry. Nothing is safe. In this America, anything can kill you.

It starts with water, but it ends with us, in us.

Yes, there is the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), who controls what standards most consumed goods should meet. There is a higher office for every industry to answer to. But what happens when the laws these organizations have set are not enough anymore? On any given day in America, you can turn on the nightly news and see yet another good has been recalled. Maybe something that you have, sitting innocently in your fridge. Something you have been serving to your children, unknowing of the dangers within.

It’s clear that there needs to be change -- the only problem is knowing where to begin. Whether it’s better to begin with small companies, eager to get their products out, or better to begin with name brand companies whose products are household staples, I don’t know. But I do know this: the current laws are not enough. Something in the system must change, and the laws are outdated or not rigid enough.

So long as the big corporations keep getting their millions, then quality and the people whom these products impact are a faceless, nameless blur. They don’t matter. We don’t matter. It is only when we the people, the consumers, say enough is enough that things begin to change. What we don’t realize is that we have the power, that we have always had the power. The cards are in our hands, and if we want to change the system, then all we have to do is act. Even small things, like a social media post, or making things at home instead of buying them can go a long way.

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