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The refreshing fizz of sparkling water has become a staple in the lives of many seeking a healthier alternative to sugary sodas. However, beneath the satisfying carbonated kick lies a hidden danger. A 2020 study conducted by Consumer Reports has revealed alarmingly high levels of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in several leading brands of carbonated water. PFAS, often referred to as “forever chemicals” due to their persistent nature, have raised serious concerns regarding their impact on human health and the environment.

Source: CBS News/YouTube

PFAS are synthetic compounds that have been in use since the 1940s due to their remarkable resistance to water, grease, and other substances that can stain and adhere. These substances can be found in various household products, such as cleaning fluids, cosmetics, rain jackets, and nonstick cookware. The durability of PFAS, coupled with their widespread use, has resulted in contamination of our water sources, soil, and even the air we breathe.

Consumer Reports found that at least seven popular carbonated water brands available in supermarkets contain PFAS levels above 1 part per trillion (ppt). Although this falls below the EPA’s guidelines of 70 ppt, many environmental scientists argue that these limits are outdated and that 1 ppt should be the new standard.

Topo Chico, a brand owned by Coca-Cola, topped the list with a staggering 9.76 ppt of PFAS. Polar, at 6.41 ppt, and Bubly, at 2.24 ppt, also contained notably high levels. Poland Spring (1.66 ppt), Canada Dry (1.24 ppt), La Croix (1.16 ppt), and Perrier (1.10 ppt) are brands that should be approached with caution due to their PFAS levels. In contrast, brands with PFAS levels below 1 ppt include Schweppes (0.58 ppt), Dasani (0.37 ppt), Sanpellegrino (0.31 ppt), and Spindrift (0.19 ppt). Remarkably, Sparkling Ice was the only brand found to have no detectable PFAS.

Currently, there are no federal regulations in place regarding PFAS, only voluntary guidelines. Consequently, individual states have taken matters into their own hands by setting their own standards for drinking water supplies and manufacturing. For instance, New Jersey has established a maximum contaminant level of 14 ppt for PFOA and 13 ppt for PFOS, two specific types of PFAS.

In a groundbreaking decision, Maine has banned the sale of all products “containing intentionally added PFAs” starting in January 2030, with a prior ban on fabrics containing PFAS that began this year.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is currently seeking approval on legislation to regulate six types of PFAS chemicals under the National Primary Drinking Water Regulation (NPDWR). Although the process began in March 2023, the EPA aims to finalize the legislation by the end of the year. This is a significant step forward in addressing the PFAS issue on a national scale.

One of the reasons PFAS levels may be higher in carbonated water is due to the carbonation process itself. The carbon dioxide used to create those delightful bubbles can interact with packaging materials and potentially leach PFAS into the water. However, it’s important to note that PFAS contamination extends beyond carbonated water. These harmful chemicals have infiltrated drinking sources, including tap water, posing a risk to millions of people.

Fortunately, public awareness of the PFAS issue has been growing steadily, prompting increased research and legislative actions. The health risks associated with these “forever chemicals” are now being taken more seriously, prompting a push for stricter regulations and greater transparency in product labeling.

As consumers, we can take steps to protect ourselves. Staying informed about the PFAS levels in the products we consume, including carbonated water, is a crucial first step. Choosing brands with lower or no PFAS content can help minimize exposure. Additionally, supporting efforts to regulate PFAS at both the state and federal levels can contribute to a safer environment for all.

Sign this petition to ban forever chemicals.

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