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Reasons to Choose Tap Water Over Bottled

Sipping bottled water has become such a habit for people trying to live healthier — think Jennifer Aniston and her Smartwater ads. Choosing water over sugary sodas is great, but many people think bottled water is healthier than good ol' water from the tap. And cleaner too. But research has found that is not true. In fact, bottled water could contain more impurities than tap water — that's not smart at all. Here are seven reasons to skip the bottled water and opt for tap.

  1. Tap water is highly regulated. It is regularly checked for traces of E. coli and fecal coliform bacteria. The FDA doesn't hold the same rules for bottled water.
  2. Tap water must be tested for coliform bacteria 100 or more times a month. Bottled water companies are only required to test once a week.

Learn five more reasons.

  1. Tap water must be tested by government-certified labs. The same requirements for bottled water companies don't exist.
  2. Bottled water doesn't have to list the source, purification methods, or chemical pollutants on the bottle, so there's no telling what you're drinking.
  3. Tap water is free, and a bottle of water typically costs at least $1, which adds up. In fact, 40 percent of bottled water is actually just tap water, so it's a rip-off to pay for it.
  4. Used water bottles tend to end up in landfills and account for 1.5 million tons of plastic waste a year, so they're not the most eco-conscious. Filling a reusable bottle with tap water is the better way to go as far as the environment is concerned.
  5. The bottles are also unhealthy. The chemical phthalate is added to the plastic to make it less brittle. When the plastic is heated (like in your car on a hot day), the chemical leaches into your water. Drinking this chemical has been linked to reproductive issues, liver problems, and an increased risk for certain types of cancer.

Which do you drink more often, water from a bottle or the tap?

Image Source: Getty
Join The Conversation
et-moi et-moi 8 years
The problem is, tap water contains chlorine, which is linked to causing cancer. But if bottled water comes from municipal sources we have the same problem. It seems like I can't win - what way do I avoid chlorine?? (a few European countries have banned it from their tap water, but I doubt that will happen here any time soon)
weffie weffie 8 years
Autumns_Elegy Autumns_Elegy 8 years
In a pinch I'll drink bottled water, but I usually go for the cheaper brands that I know are just tapwater from Melbourne or something. Usually I have filtered rainwater, we use a Brita filter to get any nasties out and the water only tastes a little bit funky when you put a new filter in. Pop the funky water in the fridge and it's fine chilled! I'd drink Adelaide tap water, but it's really quite FOUL. Too much chlorine and nasty chemicals.
ali321 ali321 8 years
I like the convenience of bottled water, but its so expensive so I started to reuse the bottles and fill them with tap. Then I hear the new thing about how reusing plastic bottles is supposed to give you cancer. Can you ever win?
Yogaforlife Yogaforlife 8 years
Chloe - good question about the fluoride. Yes - fluoride is added to municipally treated drinking water and it's very essential, although infants and children are the ones who benefit the most from the addition of fluoride to drinking water. When you drink bottled water you lose this benefit. Funny you ask this. I grew up on well water, which of course has no fluoride and I am the most cavity prone person I know. I brush too hard/often and I brush my tooth enamel away. No matter what I do (and I obsess over my teeth) I have cavities. I was at the dentist last week to get some fillings replaced and I asked him why my brother and I have such problems with cavities even when we floss/brush more than the average person. He told me that fluoride is essential to tooth development from when you are an infant until you are about 10. The fluoride is what helps make the teeth so strong. Growing up on well water, I never had fluoride and I now have very soft teeth that are so cavity prone. So I would say if you have children, tap water is the way to go for them to get fluoride since it's already provided in the water. If you only use bottled water or well water, I'd look into a floruide supplement/toothpaste for your children which I believe the dentist can provide. I wish my parents had known about this - would save me a lot of time, pain and money at the dentist. The "Civil Action" you refer to, I will have to look into. It sounds like illegal dumping of a hazardous material that made it's way into the source water for the town. Definitely is something that used to happen frequently before regulations became stricter (think Love Canal and Erin Brokovich (spelling)). There are so many tests now that constantly monitor source water to ensure that incidents like this do not happen or if an accident should happen, the public is not exposed to it.
chloe-bella chloe-bella 8 years
Yeah, thanks Yoga! The incident I was referring to is what the book (and later John Travolta movie) "A Civil Action" is based off on. It is an interesting read, and you would probably like it since it's semi-related to your field. A lot of kids got leukemia because a plant was illegally pouring chemicals into the ground that contaminated an entire city's water supply. BUT, it happened in the 80's when technology/restrictions may have been different and the people acknowledged that the water didn't look/smell/taste right. Another question: I've always heard that tap water is treated with fluoride, which is why our generation has so few cavities. Do you also lose this benefit by drinking bottled water?
imLissy imLissy 8 years
I just wanted to log in and thank Yogaforlife for all the awesome info :) I only buy bottled water if I have no other option. Such a ripoff and so bad for the environment.
Yogaforlife Yogaforlife 8 years
Excerpts from Chloe Bella's EPA link: What if I have a severely compromised immune system? A. SOME people may be more vulnerable to contaminants in drinking water than the GENERAL population. People with SEVERELY compromised immune systems, such as people with CANCER undergoing chemotherapy, people who have undergone organ TRANSPLANTS, people with HIV/AIDS or other immune system disorders, SOME elderly, and infants can be particularly at risk from infections. These people should SEEK ADVICE about drinking water from their health care providers. (yoga comment ~ This is still a small subset of the population, not the majority of our population, and the EPA is not stating here that you cannot drink public tap water, it's suggesting you talk to your health provider about your specific health issue.) What about bottled water? A: Bottled water is NOT necessarily safer than your tap water. EPA sets standards for tap water provided by public water systems; the Food and Drug Administration sets bottled water standards based on EPA's tap water standards. SOME bottled water is treated more than tap water, while some is treated LESS or NOT treated at all. Bottled water costs much more than tap water on a per gallon basis. Bottled water is valuable in emergency situations (such as floods and earthquakes), and HIGH quality bottled water may be a desirable option for people with WEAKENED immune systems. (yoga comment ~ again, this is where Reverse Osmosis treated water is desired for individuals with compromised health) Consumers who choose to purchase bottled water should CAREFULLY read its label to understand what they are buying, whether it is a better taste, or a certain method of treatment. (yoga comment ~ most treat for taste, which means removing the chlorine. Filtering to remove chlorine (for taste) is not higher treatment! Instead it creates an environment in which bacteria can regrow. If you do choose to drink bottled water (damn the environment or you have a severely compromised immune system as listed above), choose a water bottle that uses public water supply that is reverse osmosis treated. I personally use my own steel water bottle filled with tap water. If I must buy a water bottle, it's only Dasani or Aquafina since I know they use tap water that is further treated with RO.) Keep the questions/comments coming! I went into this field to help the environment and make the public safer and it's something I'm very passionate about. I'm actually more of a dirty water gal- drinking water is too easy IMHO ;-)
Yogaforlife Yogaforlife 8 years
Chloe bella - one last comment. You are correct, the EPA does recommend for people with compromised immune systems, that they drink high quality bottled water. The level of treatment the EPA is referring to is Reverse Osmosis, where quite literally only the water molecule is able to pass through a membrane, thus leaving all other contaminants behind. This is the highest level of treatment available, but it can only occur after the water has been treated the traditional way that your tap water is already treated. This final step in treatment is extremely costly due to the large amount of chemicals that have to be added to coagulate the contaminants, the extreme sensitivity of the membrane, etc. You end up having the cleanest, most pure form of water possible, but at an extremely high cost. This cost is prohibitive to most public water treatment plants and even most bottled water companies. This is great technology - it's what is used for making drinking water from salt water. It's definitely the future of treatment but like any new technology, costs are so prohibitive right now (think vcr's when they first came out compared to now). However, that being said, some of the largest bottled water companies (Dasani, Aquafina) do employ this technology. If you want to know if your bottled water does it, it will say it right on the bottle - water is treated using "RO" or Reverse Osmosis (Aquafina says HydRO-7). It must say RO or reverse osmosis, otherwise it's a different filter technology (micromembranes or ultramembranes). Aquafina and Dasani take tap water, and then provide a further level of treatment using RO. A lot of other water bottle companies take tap water and just remove the chlorine so it "tastes" purer than tap water. And again, I can't stress - never drink spring or "natural" water - it's barely treated water, not treated near as much as your tap water. Immune-compromised individuals should drink RO treated water since they are so highly susceptible - one bug, pathogen, oocyst can compromise them, whereas a normal individual has a healthy immune system and should you ingest a random oocyst or bug, your immune system takes care of it before you ever get sick. There is research out there now on how many "bugs" or pathogens do you have to ingest before you get sick or show symptoms and the research is showing the numbers to be magnitudes higher than what the epa allows to test in the water.
Yogaforlife Yogaforlife 8 years
Poptart Princess - the process is completely computer operated anymore, with manual overrides available should something occur. The operators are there in a control room monitoring the computer screens, fixing equipment should there be a malfunction, and running the lab tests. A lot of the parameters are continously monitored so that there is an immediate feedback should a contamination occur. It's not common that there are people in the actual areas where the treatment occurs, unless they are there for routine maintenance of equipment. Since 2001, there have been evolving security measures to protect both the source water and the water in the distribution system. This is due to the possibility of a bioterrorist attack on our water supply or within the drinking water system. If you think about it, somebody could potentially poison tens of thousands to millions of people with anthrax or other bioagents by putting it in the water. I'm not going to disclose the measures that are in place to detect this for obvious reasons, but trust me when I saw an employee would not be able to get away with throwing in some dirty water for just for kicks. This is a very serious concern and threat that is not handled lightly and there are checks, sensors, monitors everywhere throughout the process and system to ensure that within a seconds of something happening, we are aware of it and can shut the whole system down and alert the public.
Yogaforlife Yogaforlife 8 years
Chloe Bella - I'm not familiar with the WO incident, although, since regulations went into effect in the 70's and have consistently improved and became more stringent, water quality has vastly improved, both in our tap water and in the protection of the source water used for our tap water. Waterborne illness still occurs (from well water, tap water, and bottled water), the difference is because it's not happening on a massive scale, it's hard to trace. The most common symptoms of water borne illness are diarrhea, stomach cramps, vomiting, and lethargy. How many people just go to the drugstore and take pepto and never go see a doctor because they figure they have a flu bug or ate something bad? Unless a large group of people get sick in a concentrated area, it's hard to pinpoint the source; especially with so many sources of water available. There are people who get sick from both bottled and tap water, it's hard to trace the illness back to there unless they go to the doctor and get testing for specific bacteria such as cryptosporidium, giardia, cholera, etc. The incident of leukemia, I have no familiarity with. I started college studying in this field in 2000 and I could not work in this field until I also had a master's and by the time I was studying for my master's in 2004-2006, the regulations on drinking water underwent a huge change and became even stricter which has caused a lot of plants to have to upgrade their technology. Regulations require that the best available technology is used, which is the most advanced treatment. I truly believe we have among the safest tap (potable) water in the world, this is why you have to drink bottled water when in other countries - their water contains pathogens that your body has never been exposed to because they have a lower level of treatment, hence why you can get the "mexican runs" just from eating veggies/fruit rinsed in that water.
Fashion-Twinkie Fashion-Twinkie 8 years
We buy bottled once in a while, but generally we just fill the bottles back up with tap and put 'em in the fridge. :3
breesays breesays 8 years
brita filtered tap water ftw
a-million-suns a-million-suns 8 years
Filtered tap all the way. Or pellegrino in a glass bottle if I'm feeling fancy :)
wednesday_adams wednesday_adams 8 years
I have a counter top distiller and after seeing what's left in the bottom, I would never drink our tap water. As for the government regulating the tap water, I don't trust the government to have the standards for the general population that I have for my own consumption. The government is not always reliable when it comes to quality control.
cg130 cg130 8 years
Tap water is so much cheaper and better for the environment! I always drink tap water, bottles are incredibly wasteful.
hottpink hottpink 8 years
I try to drink tap water but the pipes in our house are very old (think 1946) and the water has a very distinct rust smell and taste.
chloe-bella chloe-bella 8 years
While I have no doubt that there are benefits (economical and environmental) to drinking tap water, I really don't buy into the argument that it's healthier. If it is, then why does the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommend that people with weakened immune systems, including anyone with cancer, elderly people, and infants, (which is a lot of people) drink "high quality bottled water" instead of tap water?
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