I'm very confused about bottled water. Some of the bottles say “spring water” while others are called “mineral water.” Can you give me some specific things to look for when buying bottled water? (from M.J.C., Bedford)
Dear M.J.C.: According to the International Bottled Water Association, we consume more than 8 billion gallons of bottled water every year in the United States alone. The safety of these water products is overseen by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, through the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act. This act contains what are known as “standard of identity” regulations that define the different types of bottled water, along with “standard of quality” regulations that limit the number and types of contaminants allowed in bottled water and “current good manufacturing practice” regulations to ensure that water is bottled under safe and sanitary conditions.
The 1974 Safe Drinking Water Act set the Environmental Protection Agency as the regulator for public drinking water, also known as tap water. The EPA and the FDA work together to ensure that their standards are comparable for water contaminants. There is one exception, however. Because tap water arrives in faucets through pipes that may contain lead, the EPA lead limit for tap water is 15 parts per billion; for bottled water, that limit is only 5 ppb. This is an important distinction because some bottled water comes from the tap and is usually treated by distillation, reverse osmosis, absolute 1 micron filtration or ozonation before it is bottled. Look for “purified water” on the label.
In many cases, though, bottled water is labeled according to its source. Here are the most common designations:
-- Artesian well water, which originates in an aquifer (layers of porous rock, sand and earth under natural pressure) and comes to the surface through natural pressure;
-- Mineral water, which originates underground and contains at least 250 ppm total dissolved solids of minerals and trace elements that come from the source;
-- Spring water, which comes from an underground source that flows naturally to the surface;
-- Well water comes from a hole drilled into the ground to tap into an aquifer; this water is usually pumped to the surface.
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My daughter sweats a great deal, more than most of her friends, especially when she's playing sports. Is this normal? What can we do about it? (from J.L., Manchester)
Dear J.L.: Our bodies sweat for a variety of reasons, exercise being just one of them. Everyone has between 2 million and 4 million sweat glands, which are controlled by the nervous system. They turn on when we're hot or under a great deal of stress. Eccrine glands, which are found all over the body, including on the palms and the soles of the feet, respond to heat. They emit essentially odorless sweat onto the skin to cool us when we get overheated. Apocrine glands are found in hair follicles, especially in the scalp and armpits, and are activated by stressors like stage fright or taking an important test. They emit a fatty sweat that when broken down by the bacteria found on the skin, produce what is euphemistically known as “body odor.”
The amount a person sweats depends a great deal on genetics. Some people will be soaked after a short walk; others can run a couple of miles and still appear cool and comfortable.
Does anyone else in the family get soaked playing golf or making a presentation? Then your daughter probably has similar genes. However, if your daughter sweats more than the rest of your family, she might want to try an aluminum-based deodorant. If that doesn't help, a visit to a dermatologist might be in order.
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We seem to get a couple of stray cats hanging out in our driveway at least a couple of times a week. Can you recommend a way to make them go away? (from F.D., by email)
Dear F.D.: This is a nifty trick that repels cats, and ants, too. Mix some lemon juice into water. Fill a hose-sprayer with the mixture and spray the driveway liberally. The cats should skedaddle, and as an added bonus, this mixture will kill those tricky weeds that sprout up in the sidewalk or driveway cracks.
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