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Bottled water, spas, and early years of water chemistry

July 1, 1995

Although hot springs have been used and enjoyed for thousands of years, it was not until the late 1700s that they changed the course of world civilization by being the motivation for development of the science of chemistry. The pioneers of chemistry such as Priestley, Cavendish, Lavoisier, and Henry were working to identify and generate gases, in part, to determine their role in carbonated beverages. In the 18th century, spas in America were developed to follow the traditional activities of popular European spas. However, they were to become a dominant political and economic force in American history on three major points: (1) By far the most important was to provide a place for the leaders of individual colonies to meet and discuss the need for separation from England and the necessity for the Revolutionary War; (2) the westward expansion of the United States was facilitated by the presence of hot springs in many locations that provided the economic justification for railroads and settlement; and (3) the desire for the preservation of hot springs led to the establishment of the National Park Service. Although mineral springs have maintained their therapeutic credibility in many parts of the world, they have not done so in the United States. We suggest that the American decline was prompted by: (1) the establishment of The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in 1893; (2) enactment of the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1907; and (3) the remarkable achievement of providing safe water supplies for American cities by the end of the 1920s. The current expanding market for bottled water is based in part on bottled water being an alternative beverage Ito alcohol and sweetened drinks and the inconsistent palatability and perceived health hazards of some tap waters.

Publication Year 1995
Title Bottled water, spas, and early years of water chemistry
DOI 10.1111/j.1745-6584.1995.tb00316.x
Authors William Back, Edward R. Landa, Lisa Meeks
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Groundwater
Index ID 70185315
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Toxic Substances Hydrology Program