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Hidden Risk in Your Sparkling Water: Understanding PFAS

Have you ever grabbed a bottle of cold sparkling water, enjoying the fizz and thinking it’s a healthy choice? Well, recent findings might make you research before you sip. There’s growing concern about substances called PFAS, which stands for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, found in some bottled waters, including sparkling varieties.

These are also known as “forever chemicals”. As a functional medicine provider in Boise, Idaho, I consider potential environmental toxicities in how they can affect health, but more importantly, how I can prevent the issue by avoidance of these toxic substances.

What Are PFAS?

PFAS are a group of man-made chemicals that have been used in various industries since the 1940s. Because they can resist heat, water, and oil, PFAS have been popular in products like non-stick cookware, stain-resistant fabrics, and even some food packaging. However, these chemicals don’t break down easily, which means they can accumulate in the environment and in our bodies over time.

Why Should We Be Worried?

The trouble with PFAS is that they’ve been linked to a number of health issues. Studies suggest that exposure to certain levels of PFAS can lead to increased cholesterol levels, changes in liver enzymes, and reduced immune response, among other concerns.

What’s more, because these chemicals can linger both in nature and within us, the potential for long-term health effects is something scientists are taking seriously. While functional medicine has advanced lab testing to be able to detect these harmful substances in the body, prevention is key, which is why it’s important to be aware of potential complications.

PFAS in Sparkling Water

So, how do these chemicals end up in sparkling water? It’s not entirely clear, but one possibility is that PFAS can seep into water from contaminated soil or water sources. They could also come from the packaging process. While the levels found in sparkling water brands are generally low, the fact that PFAS are there at all is enough to raise eyebrows.

It’s important to note that not all sparkling waters contain PFAS. Testing has shown varying levels across different brands and even within different batches of the same brand. This inconsistency makes it hard to know just how much PFAS we might be consuming when we choose a sparkling water off the shelf.

How Do Brands Rank?

In studies conducted by Consumer Reports, different sparkling and and non-carbonated water products tested for variable levels of PFAS. Of those sparkling waters studied, these brands had the highest forever chemical content that year (levels measured by parts per trillion, or ppt; lower is better).

  1. Topo Chico (9.76)
  2. Polar (6.41)
  3. Bubly (2.24)
  4. Poland Spring (1.66)
  5. Canada Dry (1.24)
  6. La Croix (1.16)
  7. Perrier (1.1)

The Bottom Line

While the discovery of PFAS in sparkling water is unsettling, awareness is the first step toward making informed choices. By staying informed and choosing your beverages wisely, you can help minimize your exposure to these persistent chemicals.

Remember, prevention and moderation are key in the functional medicine approach, and there are plenty of ways to enjoy a refreshing drink without compromising your health.

If you love sparkling water but don’t want to risk health complications, look for brands that rank low in PFAS or better yet, create your own. Using systems like “Soda Stream” which make glass versions of their canisters, you can use your own filtered water to add carbonation, leaving you with water that rivals the Topo taste without the risks.

Our licensed naturopathic doctor and experienced functional medicine practitioner offers comprehensive functional medicine consultations in Meridian / Boise, Idaho. Free discovery calls are available!