Bottled Water vs. Tap Water
Is Bottled Water Healthier than Tap Water?
One reason that many people choose bottled water is that they think it’s a healthier choice than tap water. This is good news as many people are looking for healthier options. In fact, 2017 is the first year that bottled water sales have exceeded soda sales in the United States. Bottled water consumption in the U.S. hit 39.3 gallons per capita last year, while carbonated soft drinks fell to 38.5 gallons, marking the first time that soda was knocked off the top spot.
More than one-quarter of bottled water revenue last year was shared by the soda giants Coca-Cola Co. and PepsiCo which sell Dasani and Aquafina respectively. In the four decades since the launch of Perrier water in the U.S., consumption of bottled water surged 2,700%, from 354 million gallons in 1976 to 11.7 billion gallons in 2015, according to the International Bottled Water Association.
Ok, some people are making healthier choices to drink water instead of soda, but is their choice to drink bottled water rather than tap water fact founded or just the results of good marketing by bottled water companies. People are led to believe that bottled water is spring water with the advertisements and labels portraying pristine mountain streams, waterfalls, or glacial Alpine landscapes. However, nearly 50% off all bottled water is tap water, according to Peter Gleick, a scientist and author of “Bottled and Sold: The Story Behind Our Obsession with Bottled Water.”
Contrary to the image of purity advertised by the bottled water industry, bottled water may contain a lot more than simple H2O. In 2008, testing commissioned by Environmental Working Group (EWG), found 38 pollutants in 10 brands of bottled water, including disinfection byproducts, industrial chemicals, radioactivity and bacteria. Two of the brands tested bore the chemical signature of municipal tap water, meaning that they were chemically indistinguishable from what comes from the faucet.
In 2008, scientists at Texas Southern University evaluated 35 brands of bottled water and found that four were contaminated with bacteria. In 1999, the Natural Resources Defense Council tested 103 bottled waters and detected potentially worrisome contaminants, including microbes and regulated chemicals, in about 50% of the samples tested.
This is a quite disturbing from a financial standpoint as bottled water is 2,000 times more expensive than tap water. Another perspective would be going to a sandwich shop for a six-dollar sandwich and paying $12,000 dollars for that sandwich. Just because it is marketed as a healthier sandwich, would we make the same choice. No way.
Don’t we all too often trade convenience at the expense of our health?
The other reason people tell me that they choose bottled water is that it is convenient. My response to that is, don’t we all too often trade convenience at the expense of our health?
Drinking plenty of water is good for your health, but both tap and bottled water can contain contaminants that may be harmful. The best option for getting the safest water possible is to filter your tap water. There are many different types of water filters at a wide range of efficiency and pricing. I suggest selecting a system certified by NSF International. NSF certifies drinking water filters to standards applicable to each type of treatment option. You may notice the NSF mark on a product along with numbers such as NSF/ANSI 53 or NSF/ANSI 42, which refer to the standard to which the filter has been certified. These models are designed to filter out specific contaminants, so you can purchase one based on your needs.
NSF/ANSI standard 42 is for aesthetic properties of smell and taste. A healthy choice for a water filtration system would also conform to standard 53 for volatile organic compounds such as trihalomethane, trichloroethylene and many others. These standards should be published and readily available when deciding on which product to purchase. I would also recommend a unit that complies with NSF/ANSI standard 372 for heavy metal reduction. Just as important in removal of harmful substances is the filter systems ability to add back beneficial properties and minerals for a healthy water the way Nature intended.
Be Healthy by Choice, not by Chance. Drink half your body weight in ounces a day of good quality, healthy water.
Author: Gary Lindner, PhD