I like to look on the positive side, so let me reassure you that there's no evidence your bottled water has cyanide.

Arsenic? Well ... that's a different matter. Bottled water may have unsafe levels of arsenic, said one headline discussing a new Consumer Reports study. They tested 130 brands, and found that 11 had "unsafe" levels of arsenic. To which any sensible person asks: There is a safe level of arsenic?

Well, yes! If you're a 19th-century doctor with bushy whiskers who tut-tuts at patients and says, "It's nothing but a mild case of liver fog" because your profession is still groping around in the dark. Arsenic was used as a medicine in small doses, perhaps because people treated with the stuff were usually symptom-free within a week, which is to say, dead.

If you wanted to poison a spouse, arsenic was the way to go. It built up over time, gave people horrible stomachaches that the doctors of the day would diagnose as "hysterical gastritis" or "exhausted colon." It fell from favor when actual medicine was invented, and people stopped rubbing lead paste on babies to cure colic.

Most of us grew up in fear of arsenic. Perhaps Grandma had a rusty tin of the stuff in the cellar, which she used to kill rats or perhaps cure their syphilis. The container had a skull and crossbones, and no kid thought that meant "magic powder that turns you into a pirate."

The only thing worse was cyanide. We believed all Nazi spies had a secret tooth filled with cyanide so they could bite down if captured and die sneering. Given the number of times I bite my own cheek while just trying to eat, this seems an unwise strategy.

Anyway. Federal regulations do not ban arsenic from bottled water. It can contain up to 10 parts per billion, which means nothing to anyone. Consumer Reports says some scientists say 3 ppb should be the actual standard, but these are probably the killjoys who say you shouldn't eat bacon three times a day.

One of the brands that Consumer Reports criticized for having over 3 ppb was "Crystal Geyser Alpine Spring Water," which in retrospect seems to be overcompensating. A Whole Foods brand, Starkey, also had over 3 ppb. To be honest, "starkey" sounds like a word you'd use to describe water that tasted a bit off, but you couldn't say why. "Ew — this water, it's, I don't know, a bit starkey."

Consumer Reports was particularly annoyed by Peñafiel, which had an average of 17 ppb. It's owned by Keurig Dr Pepper (no, I didn't know they got married, either). The water comes from a Mexican bottler, reminding you that there's a reason no one slaps a label saying MEXICAN WATER on a bottle.

Imagine that you're the ad agency exec who gets the job selling Mexican Water. What slogans would you use?

"You're going to want to sit down for this." Or maybe, "Run, don't walk, to your nearest retailer."

Imagine the board meeting of a company that's coming out with a new line.

"Well, board members, I have the results for our new water product, Simple AquaPure. As you know, this water comes from the springs of Geneva, which people associate with the Swiss mountains. It's actually Geneva, Illinois, but legal says we're safe if we use the phrase 'Lincoln Fresh' somewhere on the label. The tests are excellent! The water is, and I quote, 'almost entirely water.' "

"Excuse me? What else is in it?"

"Poison. But not a lot."

"How much poison?"

"We actually prefer the term 'non-life-oriented substances.' And it's not a lot. In fact, you'd have to drink a thousand liters a day to even notice, and while we all know that one person who's always chattering on and on about staying hydrated, that's a bit much. You'd have to be intubated with a fire hose. Yes, question over there."

"Could we find a water source without poison? Because then we could advertise the water as 'Poison Free.' I think that would be a marketable advantage. Poison-free tests well in focus groups."

(Murmurs of agreement around the table.)

Another board member raises his hand. "What if we rethought the whole poison-is-bad paradigm?" The room falls silent. "What if we embrace the arsenic? Make it our selling point?"

"How do you sell arsenic?"

"Oh, that's easy. Ad campaign: 'For centuries, the wisdom of the healers knew arsenic as a cure for dread afflictions. While modern medicine has found new cures, only one water provides you with the government-recommended dose of this once-trusted, all-natural, potion.' We could make people worry they're not getting enough arsenic in their diet."

It may seem ridiculous now, but give it a few years and you'll be reading stories about arsenic-infused high colonics and people wearing arsenic patches on their skin and laughing at those people who think they can get enough arsenic from their water.

Idiots! You can't buy arsenic, you can only rent it.