But Not Everyone Has It
When the COVID-19 outbreak swept across the U.S., toilet paper, hand sanitizer and Clorox wipes flew off store shelves. But shopping carts have also been full of something that most Americans get supplied straight to their home: water. Shoppers emptied store shelves of bottled water while stockpiling during the initial months of the pandemic. Even Amazon ran out of most brands of bottled water by mid-March. That month ended with an increase in sales of bottled water by 57 percent compared to the same time in 2019.
The novel coronavirus is not a waterborne pathogen. The World Health Organization says the virus’s “risk to water supplies is low.” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) affirmed that “the virus that causes COVID-19 has not been detected in treated drinking water.” And the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which regulates public drinking water, recommends we continue to drink from our taps, as municipal water systems are required by law to remove or kill pathogens, including viruses like COVID-19.
So what explains the bottled water hoarding when local, national and international health experts and environmental authorities have assured us that the H2O from our taps is perfectly fine for consumption?
Consumers stockpile products for various reasons, explain psychologists. For some, it’s about having some sense of control or being prepared in times of uncertainty; for instance, the water aisle is also frequently empty ahead of natural disasters like hurricanes. For others, the perceived scarcity of the stuff drives demand. Many Americans, meanwhile, buy bottled water because they do not trust the water they get through their pipes.
At a more systemic and troubling level, for millions of people living in low-income and neglected communities, buying bottled water is a must because an available source of clean, running water is simply not an option.
For tree-huggers like me, however, bottled water is definitely not the solution. Plastic is terrible for the environment. Plastic bottles take more than 1,000 years to biodegrade, and “[a]t least 8 million tons of plastic end up in our oceans every year,” according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, which notes that “[t]he most visible and disturbing impacts of marine plastics are the ingestion, suffocation and entanglement of hundreds of marine species.” And in some cases, bottled water has been found to contain disinfection byproducts, fertilizer residue and pain medication. But in an interview, Michigan State University professor and water microbiologist Joan Rose reminded me how lucky I am to not question…
Read more:: COVID Underscores Need for Safe Drinking Water