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CDC says drinking untreated water a health risk

Livespringwater.com is one company that sells "raw" water online.

Here's one of those trends that puts the nut in health nut: drinking untreated — or raw — water that comes with a $15 a bottle price tag and a host of health warnings.

The "water consciousness movement" — as the trend has been labeled — has also resulted in claims that have health experts worried. The companies that collect, bottle and sell the raw water are making dubious claims about its benefits as well as the dangers of tap water.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a webpage warning campers and hikers about the perils of drinking untreated water that flows from the earth.

"While the water flowing in the streams and rivers of the back-country may look pure, it can still be contaminated with bacteria, viruses, parasites, and other contaminants," it states.

One of the raw water companies, Live Water in Los Angeles, says on its website that filtered and bottled spring waters are sterilized with UV light, ozone gas and filtration systems similar to the way juice and dairy products are pasteurized for shelf stability.

"Unfortunately this sterilization destroys beneficial sources of minerals and probiotics," whereas "living spring water is the key to unlocking a perfect microbiome balance."

Live Water's founder Mukhande Singh (aka Christopher Sanborn) also told the New York Times recently that drinking tap water is really bad for you. It's akin, he said, to "drinking toilet water with birth control drugs in them," and repeated an old conspiracy theory that fluoride "is a mind-control drug that has no benefit to our dental health."

The New York Times notes in its story that there is "no scientific evidence that fluoride is a mind-control drug, yet plenty to show that it aids dental health."

The article also notes that the "water consciousness movement" is growing rapidly. Zero Mass Water, which produces a Hydropanel that makes drinking water from sunlight and air, has raised $24 million in venture capital.

One of the problems with drinking untreated water is that animals, and sometimes people, do defecate in the wild. And their waste can make its way to rivers and streams with rainwater run off. (Talk about drinking toilet water!)

Rachel Yacobozzi, a holistic health coach in San Clemente, Calif., who describes herself on her Instagram page as "in love with her pup, chocolate and sunshine" might as well add Live Water to that list. She posed holding a big sparkly jug of it stating: "Water. It makes up 70 percent of me so it must be important!" and "Nothing feeds the soul more than filling up water fresh from the womb of the earth ... untouched by hands but touched & blessed by the powers of the Mount Shasta's Mountains."

The CDC site lists several types of highly unpleasant gastrointestinal illnesses that can be contracted from drinking contaminated water, including salmonella, rotovirus, norovirus and giardia.

The CDC strongly recommends boiling, filtering or disinfecting water from streams and river before drinking it and calls modern water treatment techniques "One of the Ten Greatest Public Health Achievements of the 20th Century."

None of the raw water is cheap. Each 2.5 gallons of Live Water, which comes in a glass jug, is $16. There's a four-jug minimum and you must pay deposits on the jugs. Another company, Tourmaline Spring in Maine, sells 12 one-liter bottles for $36.

Raw water has its skeptics.

The website Gizmodo wrote an article headlined "Raw Water is Water for Rich Idiots." It goes on to note that the New York Times story "manages to be unusually irritating even by the Times' rich-people-trendpiece standards.'"

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