The Health Benefits Of Drinking Water - Is Bottled Drinking Water Healthier Than Filtered Tap Water?
In past decades, concerns about tap water and its impact on overall health led some people to turn to bottled drinking water instead. In those days, there were few choices. You could pay to have a company deliver large bulky plastic bottles of water for the water cooler. Or you could purchase gallon jugs of distilled or “drinking water” at the grocery store.
In recent years, there has been an explosion in the number of different bottled waters available, with big distributors such as Coke and Pepsi jumping on the bandwagon. But are bottled drinking waters like Coke’s Dasani brand, Pepsi’s Aquafina, or Wal-Mart’s store brand really any healthier than your tap water? Or would you be better off with a drinking water filtration system?
As we’ve learned more about the water we drink, the technology behind drinking water filters and purification systems has improved dramatically. There are filters to remove impurities, chemicals, heavy metals, bacteria and most every contaminant you can think of. With the right size and filter combination for your specific home, your water can be exceptionally pure and healthy.
Drinking water filtration systems have also become more affordable and easy to use. Although the initial cost of a whole house system usually runs several hundred dollars, that cost is often less than $100 each year if spread out over the life of the system.
There may be additional expenses to replace carbon filters, membranes in reverse osmosis drinking water filtration system, or lamps in an ultraviolet light water treatment device. These expenses can add another $100 or so to the annual costs of operating drinking water filters and purification systems.
While some people may hesitate to spend two or three hundred dollars each year for clean, safe drinking water, they are probably paying more for bottled drinking water. Calculations show that at a price of $1 to $4 per gallon, bottled or delivered water costs an average of $400 each year, especially if you purchase individual bottles. And that doesn’t take into consideration the gas needed to drive to the store or the environmental impact of all the empty plastic bottles.
Many people who choose bottled drinking water understand that it is more expensive, but are willing to pay the extra money because they feel bottled water is safer and healthier than filtered drinking water. After all, bottled water is often marketed as “natural spring water” or “pure glacier water.”
In reality, few bottled waters come from natural springs, and most of them use municipal tap water. The companies are able to get away with this false marketing because the regulations and standards for bottle drinking water are less stringent than those for residential drinking sources.
Bottled water quality is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), while drinking water systems are typically regulated by State regulations or the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This doesn’t mean that the FDA isn’t doing their job. It’s just that the rules for bottled water only require it to be as good as tap water, not better.
In addition, the FDA regulations only apply to bottled drinking water that is transported across state lines. If a company sells their bottled drinking water in the same state where it was bottled, the federal regulations don’t apply. The result is that many bottled waters are not any healthier than filtered water, and in fact some are less pure.
This was demonstrated in a study conducted in 1999 by the Natural Resources Defense Council. They tested over 100 brands of bottled drinking water and found that about 1/3 of the waters contained contamination in the form of chemicals, bacteria, and arsenic. The study also found that up to 40% of bottled drinking waters come from a city water system.
How To Tell If Your Water Is Healthy
So how do you tell if the water you’re drinking is healthy? With tap water, it’s relatively easy. If you water comes from a municipal source, the suppliers are required by law to provide annual water quality reports. If you have a well, you can have an authorized lab test your water. It may cost $100 or more, but it’s a small price to pay for peace of mind. Or you can purchase a kit and test it yourself, although the results are not as conclusive or reliable.
When it comes to bottled drinking water, it can be more difficult to know what you’re getting. Start by checking the label or the bottle cap. Some may tell you that the water comes from a municipal source or “community water system," which means tap water.
If the label doesn’t give any information, you can call the bottler and ask. But don’t be surprised if you get the run around and are transferred to several different departments. Some states have a bottled water program that tracks bottled drinking water and can tell you the origin of the source water as well as other information.
Safe and healthy drinking water has become big business. Thousands of companies are vying for your hard earned cash, and some are not always honest about what their products offer. The initial investment for a home drinking water filtration system can seem expensive at first, but over time, it is usually less expensive than bottled drinking water. And with a water filter, you at least know where the water you drink came from and how it was treated.
Before going out and spending your hard earned money for bottled drinking water that may be no better than your own tap water, it’s a good idea to do some research. You’re likely to decide that a drinking water filtration system and/or purifier is the healthier choice and provides the best value as well.
About the Author: C.J. Gustafson is a successful writer for Water-Filters-N-Purifiers.com, providing consumer information on water purification systems such as whole house and under sink water filters. She found out about comparing the health benefits of drinking water years ago when she learned that the bottled water she was buying came from a municipal system in a nearby city.