Does calling the 800 number really get you the information you want?
That depends on what you want to know.
WebMD called the 800 numbers found on three best-selling water brands, purchased at a minimart in Nashville, Tenn. In each case, we were able to find out the source of the water and the purification process used by the bottler.
But in all three cases we were told that there were no contaminants in the water we were calling about because of the extra purification. While this may be true, water quality experts say it is unlikely that the purification process removes all contaminants. And the Environmental Working Group investigation showed that some of the bottled waters they tested had the same type and level of contaminants as the tap water source used by the bottler.
The brands we checked included Pepsi's Aquafina, Coca-Cola's Dasani, and Deer Park Spring Water, marketed by Nestle.
When we called the Pepsi number, a customer service agent helped us find the date stamp and production code on the bottle of Aquafina we had purchased.
With this information, she was able to tell us that our water came from a municipal source in Mankato, Minn. She further informed us that the bottler used a seven-step purification process that included reverse osmosis, carbon, and UV light filtration.
When we called the Coca-Cola number, a customer service agent was able to tell us that our Dasani came from a municipal source in Birmingham, Ala., and that the purification process included reverse osmosis filtration.
Our Deer Park call was answered by a customer service agent who told us where our spring water was bottled and how it was purified.
Sarah Janssen, PhD, who is a scientist with NRDC, says the 800 numbers may help you figure out where the water you purchase comes from but not what is in it.
"I can't imagine that anyone standing in a store trying to make a decision about which water to buy is really going to go to all that trouble," she says.