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Is bottled water safer?

By Diana Kelly, upwave.com
November 27, 2013 -- Updated 2038 GMT (0438 HKT)
Many buy bottled water for its taste and portability. However, it's not necessarily safer for you than tap water.
Many buy bottled water for its taste and portability. However, it's not necessarily safer for you than tap water.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Bottled water isn't necessarily better than tap for your overall health
  • Tap water is required to meet safety standards
  • Well water is more likely to be contaminated

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(upwave) -- The rumor: You shouldn't trust tap water

Drinking plenty of water is important for your health, because it maintains bodily functions, carries nutrients to cells and helps you stay hydrated and energized.

But you've probably wondered: Is fancy bottled water somehow better for you than plain tap water? And is it even OK to drink tap water without using a water-filtration device?

upwave: The H20 Myth

The verdict: Both tap and bottled water meet safety standards

Many people believe that because bottled water goes through a filtration process that improves its taste, odor and color, it's also healthier for you. Filtration eliminates possible contaminants such as lead, parasites and byproducts of chlorine, so it's gotta be better, right?

Well, not really. "While (filters) can reduce exposure to (harmful) elements, it doesn't necessarily mean bottled water will be better for your overall health," says Katherine Patton, a registered dietician and certified sports dietician.

In the U.S., tap water is already treated to remove particles, chemicals and bacteria. During the process of treating public water, chlorine is added as a disinfectant, and fluoride is added for its dental health benefits (though there are those who say fluoride does more harm than good).

upwave: Get rid of dangerous germs in your home

The Safe Drinking Water Act was put into place in 1974 to ensure that all drinking water that is "actually or potentially designed for drinking use, whether from above-ground or underground sources," must meet the minimum safety standards established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. So whether you're drinking water that came from a rural kitchen tap or one in a city restaurant, it should be safe.

Well water, however, is more likely to be contaminated since it doesn't go through the same treatment and testing as water for public consumption. If the drinking water in your home comes from a well, filter it or hire a company to test its quality before you drink it.

But the water source isn't your only concern: The pipes it flows through matter, too. Lead pipes can leach lead into water, making it harmful to drink (especially for children and pregnant women). If you aren't sure whether or not your pipes are made of lead, have your water tested.

upwave: Worried about your water? Eat your way to hydration

And what about microscopic creepy-crawlies? According to the National Sanitation Foundation website, "bottled water is regulated by the FDA, which has established water-quality requirements similar to those established by the EPA for public water supplies. Bottled water products and public water supplies are not required by either agency to be 100% free of contaminants, but the end product should always meet all federal, state or provincial drinking water standards."

Of course, many people buy bottled water for its taste and portability. But if you're buying it because you believe it's safer than tap, you may want to start heading to the sink to fill up your glass.

This article was originally published on upwave.com.

© 2013 upwave, All Rights Reserved.

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