If you’re like me, and a lot of other people too, you probably reach for bottled water. Some people cling to it due to its convenience. But that’s not why some people prefer it. People tend to prefer bottled water because of what might be our tap water. People think the bottled water is safer.
Maybe bottled water is safer. But it might surprise you, just as it surprised me, that the federal guidelines allow for higher levels of contaminants in bottled water than you think, much more than you’re likely to find in some tap water. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, a common contaminant found in water is arsenic, a natural element that enters the water supply naturally from rocks and soil. The water purification process removes most of it, most being the operative word. There are still some traces that remain but the levels are said to be so microscopically small that it makes the water generally safe to drink. Scientists claim that a person could never drink enough water for those contaminants to be harmful.
There is also a difference between spring water versus filtered water (Some bottled water is merely filtered — like Dasani and Nestle for instance — which you can do yourself at home with an attachment you can buy for your water faucet for as little as $15). Spring water is preferred, as it is more pure and natural than filtered water. Filtered water doesn’t always remove a common parasite known as Cryptosporidium. What is that, you ask? Well, Cryptosporidium is a parasite that lives in the intestines of humans and animals and is spread through fecal waste. It can be particularly dangerous to people with compromised immune systems.
You can learn a lot about it just from a simple library search or a search online. In healthy individuals, Cryptosporidium can cause mild illnesses, such as nausea, headaches, or diarrhea. But for those individuals with weakened immune systems, Cryptosporidium can cause severe illness, even death. If you ever felt a little sick and didn’t know why, maybe it’s from the filtered water you drank.
More than $100 billion is spent annually on bottled water. Is it better than tap water? Sometimes yes, other times, maybe not. Based on reports by the Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency, the quality can vary depending on the municipal market where it is produced. Some municipalities do a better job than others at cleansing it of parasites. What this means is, some bottled water manufacturers raise the bar higher than the federal standard. Many raise it slightly higher, others raise it exponentially higher. Many do just enough to meet the minimum standard. The top producers of water are most likely fairly reliable. But the market is flooded with bottled water, so it’s essential that you are make yourself aware of what you’re drinking.
But, is bottled water the better option? That is something people will have to determine for themselves. How do YOU feel about bottled water over tap water? Like beauty, bottled water is in the eye of the beholder and the standard you set for yourself.
Writer’s Note: You might also wish to view this bottled water scorecard to see how your favorite bottled water measures up in an independent review. The results just may surprise (or astound) you.