How Safe is the Water from your Faucet?
Being in my forties I’ve seen quite a bit in life, and have watched the world change, sometimes for the better. One of the things I remember the most in my childhood was playing outdoors and drinking from the hose. Even drinking from water fountains was something that was encouraged, and there were a lot more of them available at parks. These days many parks don’t have drinking fountains and bottled water seems to be the normal standard for people. Even grocery stores have entire aisles of water with several different brands, flavors and prices.
Our bodies are made up of over 50% water, so you need to drink at least 64 ounces a day to maintain it. This is the adult standard, and many replace their water with coffee, soda, and energy drinks. While they are not as healthy for you, they do contain water and will satisfy your bodies need for water, at least partially. Water is needed to lubricate your joints, think straight and keep from being disoriented or dehydrated.
My wife and I have often debated on which is better, tap water (water from the faucet) or bottled water. What you need to know is that in the United States bottled water started as a staple only twenty years ago. Before that it was around but not in the volume or choices that it is these days. The United States has the highest standards when it comes to water that comes through the pipes and into our homes. It is state and federally regulated, unlike other countries. Bottled water actually started in these other countries that have poor water supplies, which eventually created a boom in the industry. Before you make up your mind which is better, there are some things you should know.
As I stated above the United States water supply is controlled by the state and federal agencies that regulate pollution, purity and chemicals that are in the water supplies. It is there job to inspect pipes, supply plants, processing plants and more, giving yearly and monthly reports on them to ensure the safety of everyone drinking the water. You are even given a report on the drinking water in your area about once a year around July. This is known as the consumer confidence report. Or if you question your water supply you can call The Safe Drinking Water Hotline at (800) 426-4791.
The Environmental Protection Agency or EPA takes a hand in regulating the water supply as one of its standards. They make sure that the water supply in each location is not only good enough to drink, but will not cause harm either. There are particles in the water that are allowed and not all pollutants are removed from the water, although all harmful ones are. Accidents do happen though and you are required to be notified if there was a problem at your local plant within 24 hours of it happening. Since there are some pollutants in the water it is often treated with chemicals to counteract them such as chlorine and the rumored fluoride. While fluoride is not used as much as it was, chlorine still is, in small enough amounts so that you can’t taste it, but enough to kill anything harmful. Since these chemicals are found in the water, and there may still be particles in the water certain people should not be drinking faucet water. Those that have had transplants, are going through chemotherapy, suffer from HIV or AIDS, and those with other blood disorders should avoid tap water.
Water found in a bottle seems to be purer, at least that is the perception. The reality though might change your opinion on what you want to drink, and your drinking choices. Water found in the bottle is often said to come from mountain springs or streams. Well that has to make you think for a minute. In the mountains there are animals, bugs and fish that either live in or drink the same water. Is this what you want to be drinking? And from what mountains are these water sources coming from?
Bottled water doesn’t have to go through the same rules and regulations that your faucet must go through. It is only regulated by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) and regulated as a food. This means it is checked for labeling, the source of the water, and the allowable amounts of chemicals versus contaminants that are in the water. It is not measured for safety and leaves that practice up to the manufacturers to maintain. You will only know about a problem with the bottled water if they announce it to the world. This only seems to happen if they notice a major problem or a certain number of consumers report the same issue. The FDA can issue a recall if there was a problem that was found, and has done so in the past, but it rarely happens.
Fiji water had such a recall years ago. (I work in retail and remember when this happened. We had pallets of this water in the backroom, and some of it looked a little green. It was hard to tell since the label is a blue and green color, but in the right light you could see it. Within days of receiving it, we were issued the recall and had to pull the entire line, recalling every bottle due to mold found in the processing plant that had leaked into the bottles. Thousands of bottles were sent back, with only a few people getting sick from it.) The problems were fixed and the plant was up and running within a week.
Soda companies seem to have their own water bottles too, although you won’t see their name on them. It makes sense though since soda is made from water, carbonation and a flavored syrup. Dasani water is made from Coca Cola, and what most people don’t realize is that their products are made from tap water. So, the soda you are drinking and the water that they make could be from the tap. (Pepsi makes Aquafina water.)
There are plenty of brands of bottled water out there to choose from including Smart Water, Arrowhead, Evian, Aquahydrate, Crystal Lake, and of course various store brands. What you choose to use in your home however is up to you. We use both tap and bottled water. So, your choice is going to be on the source you know, versus the source you don’t.