A hidden danger of bottled water

I have talked for years about the enormous waste of money that drinking bottled water can be. One figure I've seen suggests that a dedicated drinker can blow as much as $1,400 a year on bottled water. That is big bucks for you to throw away!

But this story just about takes the cake. There's now a "bottled water bar" in Los Angeles that has offerings from around the world. The bar is trying to elevate drinking bottled water to being something like pairing a meal with a fine wine!

The most expensive offering on the water-tasting menu is Beverly Hills 9OH2O, a California-made bottle priced at a $40, according to The New York Daily News.

The newspaper notes that the menu "describes each water featuring information on origin, mineral content and tasting notes."

Wow, you just can't make this stuff up! As for me, I'm a filtered tap water guy. I have a Contigo bottle that holds about a liter and a half. I typically refill it three times during my broadcasts. I'm saving money everytime I do that.

Now I've been reading how industry is adjusting to the increase in people drinking more water. One of the first industries to transition has been the water fountain business. The Wall Street Journal  reports more water fountains are being built with automatic sensors to trigger the water to start filling up your plastic bottle without you having to touch anything.

I know there are scares from time to time with the safety of tap water. But I continue to believe tap water is safer than bottled water because it's tested many times a day in most municipalities. Bottled water, on the other hand, is only tested several times a year in some facilities.

Recently, I heard a new health argument against bottled water that I want to bring to your attention. An Australian study cited by The Washington Post found that kids who don't drink fluoridated tap water have a more than 50% higher incidence of cavities.

I recall back when fluoride was first introduced into public water supplies in America. At that time, there were opponents who said it was a Communist plot to poison the kids of America. But in reality fluoride in our drinking supply just reduces dental decay. And it's really dentists who deserve all the credit for getting fluoride in the water because they believed in it so strongly, even though it ultimately reduced their income.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says drinking fluoridated public water can reduce cavities in kids by as much as 37% and in adults by as much as 47%. If you still insist on drinking bottled water, talk with your dentist about other ways (such as a fluoride rinse) to preserve your family's dental health.

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Clark Howard is a nationally syndicated consumer advice expert

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