AMA Journal of Ethics®

Illuminating the art of medicine

Journal of Ethics Header

AMA Journal of Ethics®

Illuminating the art of medicine

Virtual Mentor. August 2002, Volume 4, Number 8.

Did You Know?

  • Print

Water, Water Everywhere

Little-known facts about water.

Colleen Danz

  • 66 percent of the human body and 75 percent of the human brain are made up of water [1].
  • A person must consume 2.5 quarts of water per day through food and drink to maintain health [1].
  • On average, Americans consume 17.6 eight-ounce servings of beverages each day—6.1 servings are water; 5.6 servings are beverages like milk and juice that don't contain caffeine; and 5.9 servings are beverages that contain caffeine or alcohol, which are diuretics that can cause the body to lose water. In fact, 33 percent of what Americans drink every day can cause dehydration [2].
  • Americans drink more than 1 billion glasses of tap water a day [1].
  • Americans are drinking bottled water in record numbers—5 billion gallons in 2001, according to the International Bottled Water Association (IBWA), an industry trade group. That's about the same amount of water that falls from the American Falls at Niagara Falls in 2 hours [3].
  • Fluoride is usually added to tap water to promote dental health. The EPA has set a limit to how much fluoride can be added because an excess amount over years can cause bone disease and tenderness in the bones [3].
  • Many water suppliers add a disinfectant, such as chlorine, to drinking water to kill germs like
    E coli. After heavy rainstorms water systems may add more disinfectant to guarantee that these germs are killed [1].
  • 1.2 billion people worldwide do not have access to clean water [4].
  • Every hour more than 600 people die because their water supplies are contaminated, inadequate, or non-existent [4].
  • More than 2.7 billion people will face severe water shortages by the year 2025 if the world continues consuming water at the same rate [5].

Learn more about how you can conserve water within your home or get in touch with your regional EPA.



References

  1. EPA Water Facts. http://www.epa.gov/safewater/sdwa/30th/factsheets/pdfs/fs_30ann_waterfacts_web.pdf. July 19, 2002.
  2. International Bottled Water Association. http://www.bottledwater.org/public/BWFactsHome_main.htm. July 22, 2002.
  3. Bullers AC. Bottled water: better than the tap? http://www.fda.gov/fdac/features/2002/402_h2o.html. July 22, 2002.
  4. Kirby A. A fight to the last drop. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/245363.stm.
  5. UN warns of looming water crisis. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/1887451.stm.

The viewpoints expressed on this site are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the AMA.