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Report Contends Lack of Oversight for Bottled Water

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The water in your tap is more rigorously regulated than the bottled water you buy in a store, according to a General Accounting Office (GAO) report delivered Wednesday to Congress.

The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee heard that Environmental Protection Agency rules governing tap water are more thorough and require more disclosure than the U.S. Food and Drug Administration rules that govern bottled water, CBS News reported.

The GAO's John Stephenson said Americans spend more than $11 billion a year on bottled water -- equaling an estimated 200 bottles annually for every "man, woman and child." But the oversight of bottled water is "less stringent" than for tap water. For instance, there are no rules for a potentially dangerous chemical used in plastics, DEHP, that could seep from the bottles, Stephenson said.

Joseph Doss, president of the International Bottled Water Association, said bottled water is a "safe, healthy convenient food product that is comprehensively regulated." He suggested that consumers who want to know where the water comes from just call the manufacturer.

But Jane Houlihan, of the Environmental Working Group, said that information should be printed on the label. According to CBS News, she said that consumers have a "right to know where their bottled water comes from, how or if it's treated and the pollutants it contains."

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