These days, more people than ever before are learning to rethink what they put in their bodies and give to their children. This is just as much the case with the water we drink as it is food or medicine. By now, most of us know that common tap water contains a wealth of contaminants up to and including microbes, harmful minerals (like lead or mercury, to name just two), and even pharmaceuticals.
The go-to alternative to tap water for many people is typically bottled water … but should it be? Is bottled water any better for you than tap water? If it’s not, what’s the best way to make sure the water you drink is as healthy as it should be? Here we’ll take a closer look at the answers to those questions and more.
Is bottled water really any healthier than tap water?
Even if bottled water isn’t really everything it’s cracked up to be, it’s got to be better for you than tap water, right? Actually, not really. Although the label on your favorite brand of bottled water might depict a serene mountain stream or waterfall, don’t take it for granted that that’s where the water comes from.
Only some bottled water comes from sources like that. A whopping 25% of all commercial bottled water is sourced from municipal supplies. Yes, some water companies will subject that water to additional filtration or treatment before selling it to you at many times the cost of the tap water you’re familiar with, but don’t be fooled. It’s still basically just glorified tap water.
It’s also worth noting that bottled water can contain harmful contaminants just as surely as water straight from the tap can. Examples include but are not limited to benzene, phthalates, and mold, in addition to the arsenic, microbes, and other potential health hazards already present in your tap water.
Are plastic water bottles safe to use?
It isn’t just the water itself you need to be worried about when it comes to buying bottled water instead of consuming tap. Plastic bottles in and of themselves contain harmful elements that are just as detrimental to your health as anything the water might already contain. Examples include:
Bisphenol A (BPA)
BPA is a chemical used to stabilize many types of commercial plastics and epoxy resins. It is often used to keep softer, less durable plastics from cracking or peeling as well. It’s worth noting that changes in the manufacturing industry have led to very few modern plastic bottles which contain BPA. The problem there is that BPA can leach into the water itself when it’s exposed to heat. Heat also turns BPA into “faux estrogen,” which has been linked to a variety of serious health issues, including cancer, birth defects, hyperactivity, aggression, and hormonal imbalance.
Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET)
Most plastic bottles now contain PET instead of BPA. However, it’s important to realize that PET comes attached to its own collection of potential health risks. PET is a porous material which is difficult to clean and can be easily contaminated. For instance, PET bottles and other softer plastics can contain organic contaminants like food residue, saliva, and even fecal matter. They are especially dangerous when reused or reheated.
Phthalates are present in a number of commercial products, up to and including many plastics. They are used to help make plastic flexible. However, they can also easily leach their way into the water. That said, it’s important to note that phthalates have been linked to multiple ailments, like male sterility, liver cancer, and testicular atrophy.
For many of the same reasons, plastic bottles aren’t good for the environment, either. Yes, it’s possible to recycle them, but it’s just as important to realize that many people just don’t bother. Over 60 million plastic water bottles are thrown away in America alone every single day. Only about one out of every five of those bottles will eventually end up being recycled.
That leaves a lot of chemical-laden bottles in landfills, and many that don’t even make it to landfills, polluting the environment at large. Each one of those is steadily leaching chemicals and harmful elements into our soil, our groundwater, and many of the world’s delicate ecosystems. Some of those chemicals inevitably make their way to our lakes and rivers. From there, they often go right back into our tap water.
What’s the best way to make sure my drinking water is safe?
Instead of simply settling for either plain tap water or bottled water and hoping for the best, you should know that there’s a third option that comes attached to numerous benefits – a water filter.
Water filters come in all shapes and sizes. Some, like a whole-house water filter system, can take care of the water needs of your entire home, but require some installation. Other alternatives, like countertop gravity filters, require no installation and can provide for a household. But if you don’t even want to go that far, something as simple as a decent water filter pitcher can seriously improve the taste of your tap water.
There a ton of benefits to investing in a quality water filter for your home. Let’s look at a few of them.
Filtered water is safer
A really good water filter is capable of removing a wide variety of contaminants from the water you drink. No more lead, no more arsenic, no more bacteria, and no more trace amounts of pharmaceuticals! Just cool, clean, safe water that’s everything it should be.
Filtered water tastes better.
When you invest in a water filter, your water isn’t just safer. It tastes better, as well. No more tinny, metallic undertaste! No more off smells caused by bacteria and additives like chlorine!
Filtered water is cheaper.
Although water filters do require an initial investment, they quickly pay for themselves in money saved in comparison to bottled water. (Remember, bottled water comes attached to an astronomical markup, as far as cost, and it’s not actually any better for you than plain tap water.)
You have lots of options when it comes to how to filter your water.
Modern water filters go well beyond the filtered water pitchers you may be familiar with. You can purchase refrigerator water filters that make it possible to enjoy cold filtered water and filtered ice cubes right from your very own fridge. You can attach a water filter to just about any faucet and enjoy clean, pure water straight from your tap. You can even have in-line filters or whole house filters installed that make it possible to purify all the water you use in your home.
So, what’s the downside of choosing filtered water over the alternatives? There really isn’t one. It’s the best, most reliable way to make sure your household has continuous access to the clean, pure water you deserve. Explore the possibilities today!
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Water industry expert Phil McNamara explains some of the pitfalls of bottled water.
Phil McNamara is a drinking water industry expert. He has been engaged in the study of water issues since shortly after graduating from college and shares his expertise on the Water Filters FAST website. When he’s not keeping up on the latest water filters and purification systems, he likes to spend his time exploring the beautiful landscapes of Arkansas.