Water is essential to human survival. It is recommended to drink at least eight glasses of water per day. These are two statements you hear all the time. Did you know water keeps you hydrated, carries nutrients to your cells, energizes your muscles, removes toxins from your body, and can help your control calorie intake, among a long list of added benefits? You know you must drink water to survive, but does it really matter what kind of water? Is bottled water safer than tap water?
The battle is on -bottled water vs. tap water. Which is better for you? Is bottled water really better for you than tap water? Is this just a marketing scam to get you to pay for something you can get for free right from the faucets of your own home? This is an age old question, with many arguments on each side.
Bottled water manufacturers and supporters would like us to believe bottled water if better than tap water. But, have tests been performed? Is there any science behind these claims? Is there any way to really know the answer? The answer is yes, research has been performed and the answer is simple – in the bottled water vs. tap water battle, bottled water is not better than tap water.
The most common argument bottled water supporters use is that bottled water is safer than tap water. They support this statement using the argument that bottled water goes through a filtration process. This process improves the water’s color, the taste of the water, the way the water smells, and eliminates certain contaminants. Bottled water supporters believe this makes it safer and better than tap water. However, bottled water is not required to be 100% contaminant free.
What these bottled water supporters do not realize is that tap water (public water) is already treated to remove particles, chemicals and bacteria (1). Tap water is treated with chlorine, which disinfects the water as well as fluoride which has potential dental benefits. In 1974, The Safe Drinking Water Act was put into place. This ensures the safety of any public tap water you drink, whether at home, in a restaurant, at a friends house or on vacation (within the United States). The argument that bottled water is safer than tap water based on the filtration process is then not valid.
According to a report from Switzerland World Wildlife Fund International, “there are more standards regulating tape water in Europe and the United States than those applied to the bottled water industry”. (2) That statement would then lead us to believe tap water is actually safer than bottled water. Public tap water is filtered, continuously tested, monitored often, and treated. Basically, both tap water and bottled water have to be filtered and meet certain stringent guidelines. They both are safe for human consumption. The argument that bottled water is safer than tap water because it is filtered is not a valid argument because public tap water is not only filtered, it is continuously monitored to ensure its ongoing safety.
Bottled water comes in plastic bottles, thus the name bottled water. Plastic production is harmful to the environment and releases toxic chemicals. You know the dangers of plastic, you know plastic can and should be recycled, but many people do not actually recycle their plastic water bottles. It is important to remember plastic does not naturally or quickly decompose. “Plastic bottles can take 450 years or more” to decompose in landfills. (5) The continued use of plastic water bottles just adds to the amount of garbage in already overflowing landfills. In fact, “it is estimated only one out of fived bottles actually gets recycled”. (3) Not only is the plastic produced for bottled water harmful to the environment, there is also the detrimental effect of burning fossil fuels. “Transporting the bottles and keeping them cold also burns fossil fuels, which give off greenhouse gases.” (4) So, that being said, not only is bottled water not safer than public tap water, it also poses a greater threat to the environment.
Another argument bottled water supporters use is the portability or convenience bottled water offers. They say it is easier to grab a bottle of bottled water when you are on the go. There are now many types of portable, reusable bottles available in stores today. Actually, it is cheaper in the long run to purchase a reusable water bottle and fil it with tap water than to keep buying bottled water. These portable water bottles that you see in almost every store now are safer for the environment because it is reusable and not disposable, like bottled water bottles. Is it really more convenient to grab a bottle of bottled water than to run some tap water into a reusable bottle? Reusable bottles come in a variety of shapes and sizes, so they can easily be carried and fit nearly everywhere. Reusable bottles also come in an assortment of colors and designs. You can use them as a fashion statement, or purchase a different color for each family member so you know which bottle belongs to each individual family member.
Bottled water costs more than tap water. You already pay for tap water service through your local public service company, whether you drink it or not. There is no additional cost for drinking it. Bottled water costs you money per bottle. You have to pay for the gas to drive to the store to purchase the bottled water. Then, you have to pay for the water, in some places there is a deposit per bottle to try to encourage you to recycle. Then, you have to drive home with your bottled water. It takes more energy to carry a case of bottled water to and from your car than to run a faucet and sip some tap water.
In conclusion, bottle water is not better than tap water. Tap water is filtered and has more regulations than bottle water. Tap water is continuously regulated. Tap water does not pose a severe threat to the environment. Tap water saves money over purchasing bottle water. In the bottle water vs. tap water battle, where do you stand?
(1) CNN, Is bottles water safer?, November 27, 2013, http://www.cnn.com/2013/11/19/health/upwave-bottled-water/index.html
(2) ABC News, Study: Bottled Water No Safer Than Tap Water, May 3, http://abcnews.go.com/Business/study-bottled-water-safer-tap-water/story?id=87558
(3) Natural News, How plastic bottled water is harming you and the environment, November 17, 2012, http://www.naturalnews.com/038003_bottled_water_plastic_environment.html
(4) National Geographic, Why tap water is better than bottled water, March 13, 2010, http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2010/03/100310/why-tap-water-is-better/
(5) About.com, How Long Does It Take Garbage to Decompose?, May 29, 2016, http://recycling.about.com/od/Resources/fl/How-Long-Does-It-Take-Garbage-to-Decompose.htm