Dasani Bottled Water Has 4 Ingredients: Tap Water, Known Teratogen, Lethal Drug, and Salt

Dasani Coca-Cola

I remember the first time I tasted Dasani bottled water. It was 2004 and I was at a gym in Orange County, California. The drinking fountain at the gym was out of order so I purchased a bottle of water from a vending machine. I cracked open that lid and—YUCK! I had never tasted water so disgusting. Who knew water could have such a strong taste? At the time, I assumed my taste buds were off and eventually I drank Dasani bottled water again… always with the same reaction. Gross! I’ve finally learned my lesson. Unless I’m extremely parched, I would rather remain thirsty than drink Dasani. While everyone’s bodies are different, I personally have a visceral reaction to Dasani. After drinking Dasani, my stomach sometimes hurts and I almost always have terrible dry mouth. Have you noticed any of these side effects after drinking Dasani?

Years later, during a trip to Costco, I noticed that Costco brand Kirkland Signature water lists several ingredients added “for taste.” Out of curiosity, I drank the water and—light bulb!—there was that familiar, metallic Dasani taste. It seemed clear to me that Costco and Dasani had shared water “recipes.” When I noticed that Costco brand water had multiple ingredients in addition to water, I wondered if Dasani had additives as well. What I learned surprised me. Not only does Dasani water have additives, but these additives are known to cause much more than dry mouth and abdominal pain. These chemicals can, at high levels, cause birth defects and death.

Dasani bottled water contains four ingredients: tap water, magnesium sulfate, potassium chloride, and salt. The Dasani label claims these ingredients are added for taste, and while that may be true, these ingredients change a lot more than taste. Do you know what’s really in your bottled water? 

Dasani Ingredient #1: Tap Water. It’s no secret that Dasani, which is owned by Coca-Cola, bottles tap water. In general, I have no problem drinking tap water. Although tap water often tastes noticeably different from spring water, I acknowledge that drinking tap water is an environmentally conscious choice…. but bottling tap water?! That seems to defeat the purpose. If you’re going to drink tap water, drink it from the tap.

Dasani Ingredient #2: Magnesium Sulfate. AKA Epsom Salts or Bath Salts. FDA Pregnancy Category D Teratogen, Drying Agent, and Laxative. On its own, anhydrous magnesium sulfate is a drying agent. (Side note: Could this explain the strange dry mouth I experience after drinking Dasani water? It’s ironic that Coca-Cola has added a “drying agent” to a beverage that is intended to quench thirst. If trace amounts of magnesium sulfate residue remain on your tongue after you drink a bottle of water, making it difficult to quench your thirst, it seems reasonable to question whether this might encourage you to purchase another bottle of water or perhaps a soft drink, either of which would benefit Coca-Cola. Could this be a dangerous ploy from the marketing masterminds at Coca-Cola?) In addition, magnesium sulfate has many powerful purposes in medicine. Off label, it has been used to delay labor by inhibiting uterine contractions in pregnant women. However, this practice is declining because recent studies show that magnesium sulfate causes birth defects at high doses. After studies suggested that just 5-7 days of in utero exposure to high doses of magnesium sulfate caused birth defects, the FDA recommended that magnesium sulfate be classified as a Category D Teratogen. Coca-Cola would probably prefer that the many pregnant women drinking Dasani water don’t know that an ingredient in their water can, at high doses, affect unborn babies. So what exactly happens to the babies of mothers who are exposed to high doses of intravenous magnesium sulfate? After just 5-7 days, exposed babies experienced bone structure changes and weaker bones. For these reasons, magnesium sulfate is now listed as a known teratogen (Pregnancy Category D) with positive evidence of human fetal risk, according to the FDA. Yes, Dasani water lists a known teratogen as an ingredient. As with any chemical, the dose makes the poison, but I personally choose to avoid water with additives. You can learn more about the FDA’s position here. One more thing: Magnesium sulfate is known to have a “bitter taste.” So why is Coca-Cola adding it to their already foul-tasting water?

Dasani Ingredient #3: Potassium Chloride. FDA Pregnancy Category C. Potassium chloride is commonly used as a fertilizer, but it’s also used in lethal injections to stop the heart and, in some cases, in late trimester abortions to stop the heart of the fetus. Interestingly, potassium chloride is known to have a “weak, bitter, unsalty flavor” with a “chemical or metallic aftertaste” which again calls into question how this ingredient could possibly improve the “taste” of poor-tasting Dasani water. If you would like to learn more about the role of potassium chloride in lethal injections, you might be interested Stephen Fox’s article, “Can Ingredients In Dasani Bottled Water Kill You?” over at The Water Filter Lady’s BlogIn addition to possible birth defects, the list of side effects from potassium chloride is endless: bowel lesions, gastrointestinal disruptions, cardiac arrhythmias, muscle weakness, nausea, abdominal pain, diarrhea, dyspepsia or heartburn, GI tract bleeding, hypersensitivity, nervous system damage, and more. While potassium and magnesium are found in natural food sources – and are, in their natural forms, vital to the body – anytime you separate a chemical compound from their natural food sources, they may behave differently than they would in their natural forms. That’s why it’s very difficult to overdose on bananas, but much easier to overdose on potassium chloride. That’s also why so few people are able to successfully use processed foods to lose weight and stay healthy. How much potassium chloride is added to Dasani water? Do you trust Coca-Cola and Dasani to make that decision for you?

Dasani Ingredient #4: Salt. As I’ve written before, I believe that table salt gets a poor reputation simply because sodium is added to almost all processed foods. While table salt itself is rarely dangerous, adding unspecified amounts of sodium during “food processing” can absolutely create unnecessary health issues for many people. While one bottle of Dasani water may not have much salt, if you drink six or seven bottles of Dasani water in one day, suddenly the amount could be much higher. That said, the real concerns are magnesium sulfate and potassium chloride.

Dasani is not the only manufacturer selling water with additives. Next time you buy bottled water, take a look at the ingredients. There should only be one: water. 

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Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, dietitian, or nutritionist, nor do I claim to have any formal medical background. I do not claim to cure any condition or disease. I am unable to provide medical aid or nutrition for the purpose of health or disease. Before making any dietary changes or beginning any new fitness program, please consult with your doctor. The information held on this blog is merely the opinion of an active, health-conscious, informed citizen. The research and information covered in this blog is open to the public domain for discussion. All information is intended only to help you cooperate with your doctor, in your efforts toward desirable weight and health.

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American Foods Banned In Other Countries

banned

A comprehensive and well-researched article from EatLocalGrown outlines some foods to avoid–if you live in the United States. These 10 foods are banned in other countries:

  • Genetically engineered papaya banned in the European Union
  • Ractopamine-tained meat banned in Europe, Russia, and China
  • Arsenic-laced chicken banned in Europe
  • Bread made with poisonous potassium bromide banned in Europe, China, and Canada
  • Fat imitation Olestra/Olean banned in the UK and Canada
  • Preservatives BHA and BHT banned in Europe and Japan
  • Milk made with rBGH banned in Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Israel, and Canada

This list offers 10 more reasons to buy organic, buy wild, buy local, read ingredients, and ignore package claims (and do your own research to take charge of your health!) Learn more about the Wellness and Equality health model here.

UPDATE: West Nile Virus vs. Pyrethroid Exposure

You can read Wellness and Equality‘s original post last week about Dallas’ efforts to combat West Nile Virus here: “Pros & Cons: West Nile Virus vs. Pyrethroid Exposure”

What’s really in the air in Dallas?

Public anxiety over the aerial spraying of insecticide in Dallas to control mosquitos has raised questions about safety, but few concrete answers.  Instead of taking the manufacturer’s word that Duet Dual-Action Adulticide is safe, the public should be provided independent studies about the contents of the product itself.  Clarke Mosquito Control, the manufacturer, has a financial incentive to stand behind their polished marketing materials and safety assurances, but what’s really behind the green label?

The insecticide is a cocktail of three active ingredients: sumithrin, prallethrin, and piperonyl butoxide.

  •  Piperonyl butoxide is listed third on the Duet Dual-Action Adulticide label, but it may be the most harmful.

What are its common uses?  Piperonyl butoxide (PBO) is not actually an insecticide itself — instead, it increases the potency of the two other chemicals.  What this means is that although the label may show “safe” levels of other chemicals, the potency of those chemicals is actually much, much stronger in practice.

How does it work? PBO is a synergist which increases the toxicity of other chemicals: the more piperonyl butoxide in a product, the more powerful the other chemicals. The presence of piperonyl butoxide makes determining true levels of the other chemicals a murkier process.  Some products contain up to ten times more PBO than insecticides themselves. Of course, manufacturers often downplay the inclusion of PBO.

Is it safe?  Piperonyl butoxide is especially harmful to the developing fetal brain. A 2011 study, conducted at Columbia University and published in the journal Pediatrics, found that infants whose mothers had been exposed to low levels of piperonyl butoxide (PBO) during their third trimester showed delayed mental development by the age of three.  You can read the full study here, or a summary here.  A more recent study by Duke University study confirmed these findings and found that the chemical also interferes with signaling in the human brain. The Duke study, which was published in the journal Toxicological Sciences, found that PBO’s disruption of the critical neurological pathway “may be the molecular basis for profound developmental defects in children exposed in utero to PBO.”

  • Sumithrin: Sumithrin, also called phenothrin, is a synthetic pyrethroid.
  • Prallethrin: Prallethrin is also a synthetic pyrethroid.

What are their common uses?  Sumethrin and prallethrin are commonly used as insecticides to kill household insects, including mosquitoes.  They appear in products such as Raid, Enforcer, Ortho, and Anvil.  One of the most common uses of sumithrin is in flea and tick products for pets.  It’s also an ingredient in head lice products for humans.

How do they work?  As pyrethroids, sumethrin and prallethrin cause nerve paralysis in the insect, effectively shutting down the insect’s functioning.

Are they safe?  Sumethrin is a known endocrine disruptor, neurotoxin, and likely carcinogen. In 2005, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) revoked permission to use sumethrin in flea and tick products after thousands of cats and kittens were poisoned and killed by its use.  Few long-term studies on the safety of pyrethroid insecticides exist because they have only been in widespread use since after 2000 when the the EPA phased out the use of chlorpyrifos and other organophosphorus insecticides due to risks to child neurodevelopment.  Out with the bad, in the worse?

Dallas is not alone.  Almost all cities across the United States use insecticides to control mosquitoes and other summertime insects.  The New York Department of Public Health and Mental Hygiene advises the public — especially anyone with asthma or respiratory sensitivity — to remain indoors during spraying, close vents and turn off fans and air conditioners to reduce indoor exposure, remove children’s toys and outdoor furniture from outside and/or wash them before using again, wash all produce, and wash skin and hair if exposed to the pesticide.  These are fine recommendations, but my concern is that most people are unaware of the spraying schedules in their cities.

Do you know if and when your city sprays these toxic chemicals?

Pros & Cons: West Nile Virus vs. Pyrethroid Exposure

In Dallas, Texas, it’s raining synthetic pyrethroid Duet Dual-Action Adulticide — 2,000 gallons of it, according to some estimates.  To contain the mosquito-transmitted West Nile Virus, airplanes will wash at least twelve cities in Texas with the toxic insecticide.

If you think this issue only affects Texans, think again.  In parts of California and Florida, aerial spraying of toxic insecticides has been a routine response to summertime mosquitos. Whether to respond to cases of West Nile Virus with aerial spraying will soon be a question faced by other areas of the United States as well. This week, an increasing number of West Nile Virus cases were recorded in Chicago and its surrounding suburbs.

As of this past Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recorded 693 cases of West Nile virus in 32 states. 336 of those cases were reported in Texas. In all likelihood, many more unreported, symptom-free cases exist.

The Environmental Protection Agency acknowledges that, even when applied according to the label, synthetic pyrethroids pose “slight risks of acute toxicity to humans” and at higher doses “affect the [human] nervous system.” Some Dallas area doctors are advising patients with asthma or respiratory sensitivity to leave areas that are being sprayed.

Do officials really believe the aerial spraying is safe?  After all, many officials live within the limits of the regions that will be sprayed.  The answer, it seems, is that aerial spraying is safe for the public — but not safe for government officials.  According to several news sources, pilots were asked to avoid spraying former President George W. Bush’s home with the toxic insecticide.

Which is worse?  Exposure to West Nile Virus or exposure to Duet Dual-Action Adulticide?

West Nile Virus Facts:

  • 80% of those who contract West Nile Virus experience no symptoms and clear the virus without treatment.
  • 20% of those who contract the virus will experience flu-like symptoms (fever, body aches, swollen lymph glands).
  • If infected, you have a less than 1% chance of dying from the disease.
  • 1 in 150 people will have a severe reaction to the virus which could result in permanent damage or death.
  • Humans do not generally transmit the virus to one another, and are considered “dead-end” hosts.  (The virus can, however, be transmitted through blood transfusions, organ transplants, and breastfeeding.)

For comparison, what are the chances of experiencing side effects from pyrethroids? The truth is, we don’t know for sure.  When it comes to approving the use of chemicals, the Environmental Protection Agency behaves much like our judicial system: Chemicals are considered innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt — and by that time, it’s often too late for those exposed.

Synthetic Pyrethroids (Insecticide) Facts:

  • Pyrethroids are used as insecticides because they kill insects, fish, and other invertebrates by interfering with, and rapidly shutting down, basic nerve cell functioning.
  • The EPA has classified pyrethroids as “likely to be carcinogenic to humans” if swallowed, inhaled, or otherwise ingested via the mouth.
  • Pyrethroids are a known endocrine disruptor.  Their estrogenizing effects include lowered sperm count in men, and the development of abnormal and cancerous breast tissue in both male and females.
  • Pyrethroids are a known neurotoxin.  Symptomos of neurotoxicity from pyrethroids in humans include nausea, headaches, tremors, seizures, lack of coordination, and elevated body temperature.
  • Pyrethroids are significantly more damaging to the developing systems of children than to adults.
  • Pyrethroids are significantly more harmful to cats than to dogs. (This is one reason manufacturers must make separate flea control products for canines and felines — cats’ livers are unable to handle the higher doses that dogs are able to survive.  Always explore non-toxic flea control for your pet before resorting to chemical products.)  UPDATE 8/19: View the Pet Poison Helpline’s list of pyrethroid toxicity symptoms in cats and dogs by clicking here.

Pregnant women, as is almost always the case, are most at risk to both disease and to chemical exposure since developing fetuses are more sensitive to toxins of any kind.  (On a side note, did you know that babies born in late summer and fall are more likely to develop asthma?  This outcome is generally attributed to pollen season cycles; however, in light of the knowledge that aerial insecticide spraying is most common during the summer months, could there be a link to third trimester insecticide exposure?)

So what can you do?  Unfortunately, there is little you can do to avoid pyrethroid exposure once your city has made the decision to approve aerial spraying without avoiding the area altogether, but there are natural ways to limit the mosquitoes around your home.

Here are some green mosquito control solutions:

  • Inspect the outdoor areas around your home and remove standing water (bird baths, puddles, etc.) since stagnant water sources are breeding grounds for mosquitoes.
  • If you plan to be outside, cover up – wear long pants and long sleeves.
  • Avoid applying scented lotions and perfumes to your body, which can attract insects to you.
  • Consider introducing natural mosquito predators to your backyard, such as mosquito fish or species of fungus. (To learn more about this method, look up “biological pest control.”)

Do you have any other green suggestions?  Please leave a comment below.

UPDATE 8/19: The rain in Dallas has slowed, though not halted, the aerial application of Duet Dual-Action Adulticide.  Given the response to this post, I wanted to provide two additional resources. To view the Pet Poison Helpline’s list of pyrethroid toxicity symptoms in cats and dogs, click here.  To read a sample label of Duet Dual-Action Adulticide, click here.  According to this label, the insecticide’s active ingredients are sumithrin, prallethrin, and piperonyl butoxide.

Read our updated analysis of Duet Dual-Action Adulticidie’s safety by clicking HERE. 

Image below shows geographical West Nile Virus infection. Via.

Vote Yes on Prop 37: The California Right To Know Genetically Engineered Food Act

A few facts about GMOs:

  • A genetically modified organism (GMO) is an organism whose genetic material has been altered to include a new gene or set of genes.  An example is a transgenic organism, an organism that has received DNA from a different species (one example: cows that have been engineered to produce human breast milk.)  Transgenic animals have been used in medical experiments, but they were not approved for human consumption until recently.
  • Many countries around the world have already banned GMOs due to lack of testing and long term studies of human health.
  • Most studies of GMOs suggest that the ill effects are more pronounced in the second and third generations of GMO-consumers, meaning we simply haven’t had time to conduct thorough studies yet on humans.
  • Currently, American food manufacturers are not required to disclose to the public when they use GMOs — which means there is no way to know whether you are eating genetically-modified plants or animals.

If you’re not familiar with genetically modified food, take a look at this corn or this salmon, and read this.

GMOs are a relatively new part of the human diet so the evidence against them is still mounting. Despite evidence that GMOs could be harmful to humans, the Food and Drug Administration and the FDA went ahead and approved GMOs — without labeling — for human consumption. Do you think the lobbyists at Monsanto (producer of most of the world’s genetically modified crops) had anything to do with it?

Until now, food giants like Monsanto have managed to crush all initiatives to label GMOs so that they never made it to the ballot.  But Americans finally have a chance to vote for labeling.

Want to take action without spending a penny?  

On November 6, 2012, if you are a California resident, you have the power to change the course of the obesity epidemic.  Support the California Right To Know Genetically Engineered Food Act.  Vote for the right to know what you eat. Vote Yes on Prop 37.  

Wellness and Equality supports Prop 37.  You can watch this short video to learn about some of the implications that reach far beyond your plate:

Here is a video from the group behind the ballot initiative:

Why should you buy organic corn?

Dow Chemical Company has given us another reason to buy organic corn.  Dow Chemical Company is the second largest chemical manufacturer in the world.  Dow’s first products were poisons: bleach and potassium bromide.  Eventually, Dow expanded to include agricultural chemicals like herbicides, fungicides, and insecticides.  But a problem arose: the chemicals Dow had created were not only killing and mutating insects; they were killing and mutating farmers’ crops as well. (See photo above.)

So Dow entered the food industry and genetically engineered seeds to produce plants and bear fruit that appear healthy even after exposure to Dow’s chemical toxins.  Their most recent creation, Dow Corn, is resistant to 2,4-D, the powerful herbicide that was a major ingredient in Agent Orange.

Why do we need corn to be resistant to 2,4-D if we no longer use it on crops because we now know it’s so damaging to human health?

Because we’re spraying crops with it anyway.

Read this New York Times article and decide for yourself:  “Dow Corn, Resistant to a Weed Killer, Runs Into Opposition.”

Photo via: Corn exposed to Dow’s herbicide 2,4-D.  Dow’s new GMO corn is able to withstand the same exposure — but show no physical mutations.

Could Small Businesses Improve Your Health?

A new study published in the Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society has found communities which rely on small businesses — not large companies — have fewer problems, and their residents have fewer health problems.

Why?

Sociologists theorize that given their ties to the community — which creates a sort of built-in accountability — small businesses are more likely to care about the well-being of their employees, customers, and other local citizens.

To me, this is a surprising, albeit welcome, finding.  As I understand it, the lack of large businesses in poor urban neighborhoods is one reason for the existence of food deserts.  (Food deserts are communities with limited or no access to fresh produce).  The disadvantage of a community served by small business grocers alone is that mom-and-pop shops have more difficulty absorbing the cost of unsold foods with short shelf lives that are more likely to spoil or expire before selling.

Could supporting small businesses really improve your health?  It sounds plausible in the case of restaurants.  No matter how many poor quality ingredients your corner store is loading onto your sandwich, it’s probably still a sandwich.  The same cannot be said of sandwiches from fast-food chains, which more closely resemble chemical cocktails.

There’s little question that supporting small businesses is good for the health of our economy — successful small businesses have always been the engine of America — but could they be better for your personal health, too? 

What do you think?  Is supporting small businesses healthier?

Read the full study HERE.   Read The Atlantic‘s summary, “Towns With Small Businesses Have Healthier People,” HERE.