Berkeley scientist questions safety of bottled water

water13A review of  “Bottled and Sold: The Story Behind Our Obsession with Bottled Water”, by Peter H. Gleick, who co-founded the Pacific Institute in Oakland in 1987.

Put down that bottle of water, please, take a deep breath, and listen up. It’ll only take a few minutes, and when I’m done, you may never pick up a bottle of water again.

“Bottled water? This is a problem?” Yes, to Berkeley scientist Peter Gleick, co-founder and president of the world-renowned Pacific Institute, “bottled water is a symptom of a larger set of issues: the long-term decay of our public water systems, inequitable access to safe water around the world, our susceptibility to advertising and marketing, and a society trained from birth to buy, consume, and throw away. . . Suburban shoppers in America lug cases of plastic water bottle from the grocery store back to homes supplied with unlimited piped potable water in a sad and unintentional parody of the labor of girls and women in Africa, who spend countless backbreaking hours carrying containers of filthy water from distant contaminated sources to homes with no water at all.”

Bottling water on a large scale is a relatively new phenomenon. “In the late 1970s,” Gleick writes, “around 350 million gallons of bottled water were sold in the United States — almost entirely sparkling mineral water and large bottles to supply office water coolers. . . In 2008, nearly 9 billion [author’s emphasis] gallons of bottled water were packaged and sold in the United States and five times this amount was sold around the world.” That’s a 25-fold increase in three decades, and “Americans now drink more bottled water than milk or beer.” (Betcha didn’t know that, did you? I sure didn’t!) Now, “data on beverage consumption reveals that on average, each of us is actually drinking around 36 gallons per year less tap water.”

Gleick notes that “when we do actually look, we find evidence that there are potentially serious quality problems with bottled water. . . [However], [t]he system for testing and monitoring the quality of bottled water is so flawed that we simply have no comprehensive assessment of actual bottled water quality.”

So, why hasn’t somebody done something about this? It turns out that the FDA is the culprit. Bottled water falls within the FDA’s purview. Gleick cites a study by the Government Accountability Office to the effect that “while the FDA does very few actual inspections of water bottlers, the few they conducted between 2000 and 2008 found problems a remarkable 35 percent of the time. Even this warning sign led to ‘little enforcement action.’”

OK, maybe you feel bottled water tastes better than water from the tap. But you’re probably fooling yourself. As Gleick reports, “test after test shows the same things: people think they don’t like tap water, but they do. Or they think they can distinguish the taste of their favorite bottled water, but they can’t.” Just check out “bottled water taste test” on YouTube, if you don’t believe this.

Here, then, are the Top Ten Reasons Not to Drink Bottled Water:

Continue reading on Mal Warwick’s Blog on Books.

Follow Berkeleyside on Twitter, and on Facebook. Email us at or if you have a tip at

Print Friendly
Tagged , ,
Please keep our community civil. Comments should remain on topic and be respectful.
Read our full comments policy »
  • FiatSlug

    In Berkeley, we have EBMUD water available on tap. I’ve lived with EBMUD water for more than 44 years and I can tell you that it is at or near the top in the water I’ve consumed and superior to most in taste, odor, and appearance.

    EBMUD water compares favorably to the best public water utilities in the United States, including New York City’s water system which is often ranked as the premier water system in the United States, not just for the number of customers served, but also for the quality of its water.

  • Hydroman

    People don’t trust tap water for good reason. In practice, the goal of public regulators is to do a “pretty good job.” For a health-critical program, that sometimes is not good enough. The primary risk from drinking water is probably lead acquired in the distribution system or home plumbing. Rather than having an absolute standard of acceptability as is applied to most pollutants, lead is regulated with an action level: “If more than 10% of tap water samples exceed the action level, water systems must take additional steps.” This implies that up to 10% of the population can have water with risky lead levels – no action needed – what a program!

    A 2011 federal law redefines “lead-free” and finally lowers the maximum lead content of plumbing products such as pipes and fixtures from 8.0% to 0.25%. This law becomes effective in 2014, until then “lead free” is a maximum lead content of 8.0%! Of course, most houses are going to have plumbing with the higher lead levels.

    Also, many water systems are switching to chloramines to provide ongoing disinfection in water systems. There are now concerns that chloramines create a new (“emerging”) set disinfection byproducts that carry their own risks. Also chloramines, at least in some systems, have been implicated in greater release of lead. Google: Changes in Blood Lead Levels Associated with Use of Chloramines in Water Treatment Systems.

    Bottled water has all the problems that Gleick identifies. So what do I do? I run the water for a few minutes to ensure the water sitting overnight in my household pipes is cleared out, and I use a filter. Beer’s not a bad option either.

  • TN

    We’re lucky here in the parts of the Bay area served by EBMUD and SF PUC. I think the tap water tastes great.

    But there are parts of urban and suburban California where tap water is unpalatable. Some of my family lives in a suburban town in Southern California with horrible tasting water. I’m sure the water is safe enough because it is tested. But there’s no point in making tea with it, let alone drink it out of the tap. So, yes, the family buys a lot of bottled water. I’m sure they don’t want the expense but what choice do they have.

  • gwumpycat

    Just buy a brita pitcher!

  • TN

    They’ve tried all the water filtration systems including the expensive plumbed systems. They don’t help enough. I think that it is difficult for those of us who have good water to understand how difficult it is to take the bad tasting elements out of water. It isn’t very easy or cheap to do at the household level.

  • You may not know that many water utilities have added ammonia to their chlorine systems (making chloramine) to meet an EPA rule that reared its ugly head a few years ago. I’ve not got chloramine in my tap water.. I get severe skin, respiratory and digestive symptoms if I use my tap water. I have 35 gallons of spring water delivered to my home from a local outfit, and I shower at a YMCA in a nearby town that still uses chlorine. The bad news is I get the plastic. The good news is I don’t get immediately sick from my tap water. And they reuse the 5-gallon bottles that I empty out. I’m not the only one chloramine makes sick. Please read on.

    Demand Action on Chloramine in Drinking Water Causing Skin and Respiratory Problems

    The End Chloramine Working Group (ECWG) is a national coalition of non-profits and citizens groups raising awareness about the effects of chloramines as a drinking water disinfectant, and has been documenting the serious health effects of chloramine for the past ten years.

    Chloramine has been added to drinking water systems at an increasing rate in the past decade as a direct result of EPA rules requiring the reduction of chlorine’s regulated disinfection byproducts.

    Rather than cleaning up the source water with improved filtration, water system operators are choosing chloramine, the least expensive option for meeting EPA regulations.

    Denise Johnson-Kula, founder of the non-profit organization Citizens Concerned about Chloramine (CCAC) in 2004, has worked with symptom sufferers all over the country and helped them form satellite groups who are fighting the use of chloramine. “We are not surprised that in the last 10 years, since chloramine has been added in an increasing rate to drinking water systems that the CDC has found in a recent study that the incidents of asthma and skin rashes have been on the rise during the same time period,” says Johnson-Kula. “Our data shows that in states and countries which use chloramine, there are increased reports of skin, respiratory, and digestive symptoms, some of which are life threatening. To date, CCAC has heard from people in over 30 states in the U.S. as well as other countries using chloramine, who are experiencing the same symptoms.”

    “When Vermont’s largest water system, the Champlain Water District, added chloramine to our water in 2006, hundreds of people reported skin rashes, respiratory problems, and digestive issues. Their symptoms vanish when sufferers move away or take vacations to areas which do not use chloramine, or when they switch entirely to using bottled spring water,” reports Ellen Powell, founder of People Concerned About Chloramine.

    Michelle Anderson, founder of South Carolinians Against Chloramine said, “My son and I developed skin and digestive symptoms from chloraminated tap water in upstate South Carolina. In 2009 I began documenting people with skin, respiratory and digestive symptoms which they demonstrated were due to their use of chloraminated water. People contacted me after they saw news articles and a television segment that covered our family’s experiences with chloramine.”

    Susan Pickford of the Chloramine Information Center in Pennsylvania worked for three years to keep Pennsylvania American Water Company (PAWC) from putting chloramine in the drinking water in the Camp Hill area. Despite their efforts PAWC started using chloramine in 2010 which also resulted in the reporting of adverse health effects. Pickford, an attorney, developed evidence that PAWC’s water systems did not need to use chloramine to meet EPA’s regulations. “We have documentation of people who experienced skin rashes and respiratory difficulties after only a three minute exposure to the chloraminated water,” Pickford said.

    Despite intense opposition, in July 2012 Tulsa, Oklahoma began using chloramine. Residents immediately began reporting skin rashes, respiratory and gastrointestinal problems. That same month, water boards in Charlottesville, Virginia rejected the use of chloramine in response to a large public outcry.

    In March 2013, Rutland, Vermont became the first city in the U.S. to vote on the use of chloramine, and overwhelmingly rejected chloramine 2406 to 1150.

    “In 1978, scientists recommended to the EPA that studies be done on the health effects of chloramine, foreseeing that more water systems would be using it in the future,” Jeanine Kinney of Tulsans Against Chloramine points out. “To date, no skin, respiratory or digestive studies on chloraminated water have been done. Many agencies have done exhaustive searches for such studies. All of them have come up empty-handed. Since these studies have not been done, doctors have no way to clinically diagnose chloramine exposure in their patients.”

    “Sufferers get allergy testing, colonoscopies, and prescriptions for steroidal inhalers and creams, which do nothing to address the underlying problem,” says Annette Smith, executive director of Vermonters for a Clean Environment, a non-profit organization that has been working with citizens in Vermont and around the country to end the use of chloramine in drinking water. “Most people who present with allergy-like symptoms from chloraminated water test negative for allergies. This makes it all the more difficult for doctors to figure out, given that there are no studies on the health effects of chloraminated water. Even people who do not live with chloramine in their water supply may be exposed via processed foods made with chloraminated water.”

    “All the evidence these citizens have gathered seems to point to chloramine as a skin and mucous membrane irritant,” says Bob Bowcock, lead environmental investigator for Erin Brockovich, who is working with the End Chloramine Working Group. “USEPA and CDC have been handed credible anecdotal evidence of a link between chloraminated water and the alarming increase in skin and respiratory symptoms in the public. However, they continue to ignore this mounting evidence. The CDC should be investigating the connection between these symptoms and the increasing use of chloramine across the country. It’s time they took the complaints about the health issues caused by chloramine seriously.”

    Some of the major cities using chloramine: Houston TX, Los Angeles CA, Philadelphia PA, San Diego CA, Dallas TX, San Jose CA, Indianapolis IN, San Francisco CA, Austin TX, Fort Worth TX, Milwaukee WI, Boston MA, Washington DC, Denver CO, Portland OR, Oklahoma City OK, Kansas City MO, Virginia Beach VA, Omaha NE, Oakland CA, Miami FL, St. Louis MO, Raleigh NC, St. Petersburg FL, Portland ME, Bangor ME, Concord NH, Manchester NH, Ketchikan AK, Charleston SC, Sarasota FL, Savannah GA, Louisville KY, Lexington KY, Columbia SC, Short Hills NJ, Lincoln NE, Bismarck ND, Ann Arbor MI, Fort Wayne IN, Champaign IL, Peoria IL, Tampa FL.

  • fran haselsteiner

    Interesting to hear about chloramines, because my new filtration unit doesn’t filter them out.

  • BK

    I like my EBMUD water and drink it all the time. But when we bought a sodastream carbonation system, we felt the resultant soda water didn’t taste good. So we bought a faucet-mounted filter. Now it tastes good. Reading about chloramines makes me wonder what it would cost the individual consumer for EBMUD to do the filtration centrally.

  • You got that right.

  • EBMUD is treated with chloramine. How many main breaks have there been since this article was written, killing more fish in the Urban Creeks?

    Water-main breaks proving deadly to fish

    Patrick Hoge, Chronicle Staff Writer

    Saturday, July 15, 2006

    Aquarium owners typically know that untreated tap water can kill fish.

    And Bay Area water-quality regulators are increasingly concerned that drinking
    water spilling down storm drains and into creeks has caused fish kills in
    places like Berkeley and Marin County.

    Regional Water Quality Control Board officials are particularly concerned about a
    disinfectant called chloramine that water agencies nationwide have started to
    use instead of chlorine. Chloramine, which regulators say is not toxic to
    humans, is more lethal to aquatic life.

    Water officials locally and nationwide have been switching to chloramine — a mix of
    chlorine and ammonia that water officials say produces fewer potentially
    dangerous by-products for people than chlorine. But chloramine is worse for
    fish because it lasts longer in the environment.

    “We need a more effective program put into place that will prevent these fish,
    frogs and other aquatic life from being killed,” said Ann Riley, river and
    watershed restoration adviser for the San Francisco Regional Water Quality
    Control Board and co-founder of the Urban Creeks Council.

    Riley and co-workers became concerned about chloramine after a series of East Bay
    Municipal Utility District water-main breaks sent hundreds of thousands of
    gallons of water into three creeks, killing fish on at least two occasions in

    Riley has since concluded that EBMUD’s protocols for handling breaks, cleaning fire
    hydrants and replacing pipes are not adequate to prevent chloramine from
    getting into creeks. Her agency has been preparing to issue a notice of
    violation to EBMUD.

    EBMUD incidents include a water-main break last year that killed 30 Sacramento sucker
    fish in Strawberry Creek in Berkeley and at least two involving more than
    100,000 gallons of water into Codornices Creek, one in 2000 and the other last
    year. Steelhead have been spawning again in that creek and taxpayer-funded
    habitat-restoration efforts are under way.

    EBMUD spokesman Charles Hardy said that his agency does a good job containing water
    spills, given that there are 4,000 miles of EBMUD pipe.

    On average, EBMUD crews arrive to breaks within 38 minutes, and they are trained
    to dechloraminate water before it runs into creeks, he said.

    Riley, however, said it’s not enough, considering that recently there have been about
    100 pipe breaks a month, while the government is spending significant amounts
    of money to restore wildlife to creeks hit with spills.

    The State Water Resources Control Board is updating its policy to set statewide
    chloramine discharge standards for the first time. The agency had considered requiring
    extensive field monitoring for chloramine but dropped the idea after numerous
    water agencies, including EBMUD, said it would be impractical.

    After creek advocates complained, however, the state agency’s water quality chief,
    Darrin Polhemus, said his agency would likely set discharge limits that local
    water quality control boards would enforce.

    The Marin Municipal Water District, which started using chloramine in 1995, caused
    two fish kills in 2004. In all, the spills of drinking water killed 33 trout in
    Corte Madera Creek and Ross Creek. Those trout could have been protected

    The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission in 2004 became the last major water
    agency in the region to start using chloramine. Agency spokesman Tony Winnicker
    said virtually all water that goes into city storm drains goes through the
    city’s sewer system, and thus chloramine is removed before discharge into the
    bay or ocean. Most cities do not treat their storm water.

    Some people question whether the chemical is safe for people, and a group has formed
    to protest San Francisco’s shift to chloramine.

    Federal regulators, however, say low levels of chloramine have been used to safely
    disinfect drinking water for nearly a century. [Very scientific. Been used for a long time so it must be safe.]

  • Tizzielish

    Thanks, Ellen, for all this information.

    Can you tell us who gains something by using chloramine in our drinking water, risking our watersheds and fish? I’m just taking a wild guess: the corporations that sell it? What do individual humans gain?

  • Tizzielish

    I am saddened to read the added information provided by Ellen Powell (thanks, Ellen) about the quality of my Berkeley tap water. I made a decision, about 8 years ago, that I was going to drink tap water no matter where I lived or its quality. I concluded that bottled water was going to make it harder and harder for the world’s poor to be able to drink water which, of course, is essential to remaining alive. I decided drinking with the masses was a kind of solidarity with humanity in general, my community in particular.

    Wherever I go, I bring my own bottle and fill it from taps, always taps. I do love to get water at Starbucks and Peets. Here in Berkeley, no food-serving restaurant can refuse to give water to anyone who asks for a drink of water.And coffeeshops filter their water a lot, like three times, and it does taste pretty tasty to me. At airports, Starbucks will sometimes charge for a plastic cup and will not fill my water bottle anymore — germs, they say, but really, I think it is cause they want to intimidate me into buying bottled water. I’ll pay for the cup, even for what they charge for the bottle of water but I will not drink bottled water or add one more plastic bottle into the world’s trash. Doesn’t everyone know about the miles-long island of plastic floating in the ocean that no one can do anything about?!!

    I believe a just society provides drinking water for everyone and if everyone drinks only bottled water, politicians have less and less incentive to fund civic infrastructure to ensure safe drinking water. It’s analogous to why I would not move to the suburbs when I was raising my daughter to avoid the public schools filled with mostly poor, mostly nonwhite students (in the Midwest): I reasoned that if all whites abandoned public schools, or inner city ones, the future was going to suck even more than it has to.

    So, whatever is in any tap water, it goes into me. I stand with the common human and consider water an essential commons, just like clean air is an essential commons we all have a duty to maintain and protect. Without good air and water, and, for that matter, bees, we’re all toast.

    We’re all in it together, the way I see it and drinking bottled water won’t save me if the whole system fails the whole.

  • Hydroman

    Activated carbon filters can remove chloramines. Surprisingly, a vitamin C pill will, too. Google: chloramine removal SFPUC August 2010.

  • Hydroman

    Tizzie – Interesting position, although I’m not quite prepared to make the sacrifices you have. Reminds me of Simone Weil.

  • fran haselsteiner

    You’re right. Southern California water is undrinkable.

  • fran haselsteiner

    I thought my Aquasana countertop filter did not exclude chloramines, but it actually does.

  • guest

    Kudos to Mr. Gleick. For some, tap water is fated to be the cause of their ills, imagined or real – along with air, sex and life in general.

  • irene

    EBMUD adds fluoride, which is completely unnecessary. People who believe fluoride is good for their teeth can use it in their oral products. We shouldn’t all be forced to drink it.

  • irene

    EBMUD water is also treated with fluoride, which is not necessary. Further info on

  • Douglas H Finley

    A distillation system will certainly get rid of all the funny tastes & smells, because nothing but steam comes through the process. Reverse osmosis will probably work too. Sounds like they were only trying cheaper filtration systems. But even a high-end distillation system will cost far less per gallon, & over the years, than buying bottled water.

    Brita & other pitchers, & faucet-mount filters, have tiny ineffective short-lived filters that cost a relative fortune per gallon. They’re also slow & inconvenient. For most city water, a countertop canister filter is more than enough, & gets rid of chlorine taste.

  • Douglas H Finley

    In general for the US you’re right, but SF & EBMUD city water is straight from the Sierras by dedicated aqueduct, naturally pretty pure & minimally treated.

  • SauceForTheGander

    Hopefully this educational effort by Dr. Gleick will include less forgery than prior efforts.

    I wish him luck in avoiding indictment.

  • The_Sharkey

    It’s too bad they put chlorine in our water, which is potentially damaging and difficult to remove from the water.

    Other than that, I agree that it’s pretty great!

  • The_Sharkey
  • The_Sharkey

    If that information is supposed to be damning, it really isn’t.
    When it comes to groups as scummy as the Heartland Institute, a no-holds-barred approach is necessary.

  • Chloramine, not chlorine. Numerous reports of the SF water making people sick have been ignored by the SFPUC since 2004. see Learn what’s in your water and get involved in pushing the SFPUC to stop using chloramine. With some of the purest source water, adding ammonia to it, creating health and environmental hazards in an area that has the “precautionary principle” in its charter makes zero sense. It’s your water, and you can make a difference if you speak up.

  • Dan

    We gain safe drinkable water. Chlorine or chloramine kill pathogens in the water

  • sky

    I think we are so far removed from the dangers of pathogens and so freaked out by chemicals that these comments make a lot of sense. Safe drinking water, along with vaccinations, antibiotics, and safer birth practices have saved hundreds of millions of lives. An yet somehow, this is what people want to focus on as being “problems”. Amazing.

  • gwumpycat

    US EPA drinking water quality standards limit chloramine concentration for public water systems to 4 parts per million
    (ppm) based on a running annual average of all samples in the
    distribution system. In order to meet EPA regulated limits on
    halogenated disinfection by-products, many utilities are switching from chlorination to chloramination.
    While chloramination produces fewer regulated total halogenated
    disinfection by-products, it can produce greater concentrations of
    unregulated iodinated disinfection by-products and N-nitrosodimethylamine.[22][23] Both iodinated disinfection by-products and N-nitrosodimethylamine have been shown to be genotoxic.[23]

  • JuiceJeasel

    I have a cheap Culligan water filter and i replace it every 3 months. Great tasting water and no lugging huge cases of water from Costco!

  • guest

    Public drinking fountains should be cleaned more often, and adjusted properly so the mouth does not have to touch the metal.

  • dean

    @The_Sharky: Per “scummy”, above, I’m pleased to see that you don’t let
    mere facts stand in the way of your expression of virtuous outrage.
    Truly you are a morally superior Berkeley-person.

  • The_Sharkey

    Mere facts show that Heartland has about the same moral standing as people who kick puppies and steal candy from babies.

    Global warming

    Heartland Institute questions scientific opinion on climate change, arguing that global warming is not occurring and, further, that warming might be beneficial if it did occur.[16] The institute is a member organization of the Cooler Heads Coalition, which describes itself as “an informal and ad-hoc group focused on dispelling the myths of global warming.”[17] In Merchants of Doubt, Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway
    wrote that the Heartland Institute was known “for its persistent
    questioning of climate science, for its promotion of ‘experts’ who have
    done little, if any, peer-reviewed climate research, and for its
    sponsorship of a conference in New York City in 2008 alleging that the
    scientific community’s work on global warming is fake.”[11]

    In 2008 a bibliography written by Dennis Avery was posted on Heartland’s Web site, titled “500 Scientists with Documented Doubts of Man-Made Global Warming Scares”.[18][19] In late April 2008, Heartland reported that the web site DeSmogBlog
    had “targeted The Heartland Institute in late April 2008, and in
    particular two lists posted on Heartland’s Web site of scientists whose
    published work contradicts some of the main tenets of global warming
    alarmism.”[19] The Sydney Morning Herald reported that the work of Jim Salinger,
    chief scientist at New Zealand’s National Institute of Water and
    Atmospheric Research, was “misrepresented” as part of a “denial
    In response to criticism, The Heartland Institute changed the title of
    the list to “500 Scientists Whose Research Contradicts Man-Made Global
    Warming Scares.”[19] Heartland did not remove any of the scientists’ names from the list.[19][20]
    Dennis Avery explained, “Not all of these researchers would describe
    themselves as global warming skeptics”…”but the evidence in their
    studies is there for all to see.”[19][nb 1]

    International Conferences on Climate Change

    Between 2008 and 2012 the Heartland Institute sponsored seven International Conferences on Climate Change, bringing together hundreds of global warming skeptics. Convention speakers have included Richard Lindzen, a professor of meteorology at MIT; Roy Spencer, a research scientist and climatologist at the University of Alabama at Huntsville; S. Fred Singer, who is a senior fellow of the Heartland Institute[21]
    and was founding dean of the School of Environmental and Planetary
    Sciences at the University of Miami and founding director of the
    National Weather Satellite Service; Harrison Schmitt,
    a geologist and former NASA astronaut and Apollo 17 moonwalker; and Dr.
    John Theon, atmospheric scientist and former NASA supervisor. In the
    first conference, participants criticized the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and Al Gore.[10][22] The BBC reported that the heavily politicized nature of the Heartland conferences led some “moderate” climate skeptics to avoid them.[13]

    At the conclusion of the 2012 7th International Conference, held at the Chicago Hilton, Heartland president Joseph Bast announced that the organization was discontinuing the conferences.[23]

    May 2012 billboard campaign

    On May 4, 2012, the institute launched a digital billboard ad campaign in the Chicago area featuring a photo of Ted Kaczynski, (the “Unabomber”
    whose mail bombs killed three people and injured 23 others), and asking
    the question, “I still believe in global warming, do you?”[24] The institute planned for the campaign to feature murderer Charles Manson, communist leader Fidel Castro and perhaps Osama bin Laden,
    asking the same question. In a statement, the institute justified the
    billboards saying “the most prominent advocates of global warming aren’t
    scientists. They are murderers, tyrants, and madmen.”[25] The billlboard reportedly “unleashed a social media-fed campaign, including a petition from the advocacy group Forecast the Facts calling on Heartland’s corporate backers to immediately pull their funding,” and prompted Rep. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-Wis.), to threaten to cancel his speech at the upcoming Heartland Institute Climate Change Conference.[26] Within 24 hours Heartland canceled the campaign, although its President refused to apologize for it.[nb 2] The advertising campaign led to the loss of substantial corporate funding,[27]
    the resignation of Institute board members, and the resignation of
    almost the entire Heartland Washington D.C. office, taking the
    Institute’s biggest project (on insurance) with it.[28] Subsequent to their resignation, the staff of the former Heartland insurance project founded the R Street Institute.[29]


    In the 1990s, the Heartland Institute worked with Philip Morris to question the link between secondhand smoke and health risks.[10][30]
    Philip Morris used Heartland to distribute tobacco-industry material,
    and arranged for the Heartland Institute to publish “policy studies”
    which summarized Philip Morris reports.[30][31]
    The Heartland Institute also undertook a variety of other activities on
    behalf of Philip Morris, including meeting with legislators, holding
    “off-the-record” briefings, and producing op-eds, radio interviews, and
    letters.[30][32] In 1994, at the request of Philip Morris, the Heartland Institute met with Republican Congressmen to encourage them to oppose increases in the federal excise tax.
    Heartland reported back to Philip Morris that the Congressmen were
    “strongly in our camp”, and planned further meetings with other

  • guest

    JuiceJeasel, turn the frown the other way around!

  • guest

    Usually the word “scum” used as a noun, when insulting someone, e.g.: “Mr. XYZ is scum!”. If used as an adjective, does that imply a partial state of being “scum”? And could a person or organization be “scummy” in some ways, yet decent in others?

  • Elon Rosenthal

    Bottled water is a disaster to our environment. A site talks about how bottled water can harm your heart, according to the World Health Organization.

  • Linda Corwin

    To bring this conversation back on point. Mr. Gleick starts with the picture of women lugging plastic water bottles from the grocery store into homes with unlimited supplies of what he calls ‘potable’ water. To thousands of us across this nation, this piped water is not potable. It may be ‘safe’ in that it contains few bacteria but it is not ‘safe’ for us to drink, or in some cases even to touch. We do feel that we are in a third world country!
    Taste is not the issue, but the SFPUC is trying to divert the discussion of chloramines away from the real issue which is what chloramine does to us once it comes in contact with our bodies. To this day, there have been no scientific studies of the connection between chloramine and the symptoms people are experiencing when they are exposed to it. People are experiencing respiratory, dermal and digestive symptoms when they are exposed to chloraminated water. These symptoms are not imaginary. They go away when we are not exposed to chloraminated water. Some people have noticed symptoms come and go, then backtracked to find that where they had symptoms, they were in a place that used chloraminated water and when they had no symptoms, that place did not use chloramines. The only way to protect our health is to lug these big bottles of spring water. See more information at

    Mr. Glick seems to have been drawn into the double speak of the SFPUC. In one breath they tell us that we must conserve our precious water, and in the next breath they tell us to use more tap water. Which one do they want and why do they care?
    The only way to get us to back to tap water is persuade the SFPUC and indeed the USEPA to stop the use of chloramine as a water disinfectant.

  • Charles_Siegel

    What proportion of people have these symptoms? It seems plausible to me that a minority of people who buy bottled water need it, but the great majority does not, so Gleick’s criticism of the industry would generally be valid.

  • Charles_Siegel

    Sharkey is absolutely right about the Heartland Institute.

    I won’t comment on the exact meaning of the adjective “scummy,” since that one is too difficult for me and too irrelevant to the issue.

  • Charles_Siegel

    “What a twin reversal of fortune. While the Heartland Institute has
    melted down because of its overreaction to climate scientist Peter
    Gleick’s release of their funding documents, Gleick himself has now been
    reinstated as president of the Pacific Institute following an
    independent investigation.

    “On May 21, the UK Guardian broke the news
    that an external investigation conducted for the Institute cleared
    Gleick of the charge of faking material in his elaborate effort to
    obtain internal Heartland strategy and finance documents.”

    The link to junkscience (which is a well known climate disinformer site) mentions that he is on leave and the conclusions of the investigation are not yet public, so you can consider this news about his reinstatement an update.