Is Bottled Water Truly Better Than Tap?
Where Does Bottled Water Come From?
Most bottled water brands market their product to give an impression that it is pure and originates from springs, mountains, or other pristine areas of natural beauty. This marketing tactic leads consumers to believe the bottled water they are drinking is safer and better for their health than tap water.
The majority of the bottled water on store shelves is sourced from a municipal supply, meaning it is filtered tap water that has been treated and purified. Bottlers are not obliged to list the water source on the label. In the USA, for example, the FDA only permits labels such as “spring water” or “well water” on water that comes from these natural sources. However, other labels such as “mountain water” or “glacier water” are not regulated by the FDA, and can be freely used by companies to give a misleading impression of their product. Other countries have similar regulations, or a lack thereof.
Health and Safety Considerations
Bottled water is not subjected to the same rigorous safety tests and inspections as tap water. While the recall of bottled water due to contamination is rare, the common perception that bottled water is healthier to drink is not true.
Tap water mostly comes from local rivers and lakes. Therefore, it is necessary for it to pass through a treatment plant and purification process before it reaches your tap. These processes ensure the water meets the standards set by city regulatory bodies. Some complain about the taste or smell of tap water. However, these factors are usually due to residual amounts of chlorine used to sanitize the water or a high mineral content in the water, which doesn’t affect the quality or safety. A home water filtration system can be used to purify your tap water before it is consumed, removing any unpleasant odor or taste.
A bottle of water may be stored for months on a shelf or warehouse before it is sold and consumed. Once opened, the water must be used within a few days to be safe, or it is at risk of bacterial contamination. There is also a risk that the seal on a bottle of water will break before it leaves the warehouse or store, leading to contamination.
Numerous studies have been conducted that indicate a risk of the migration of carcinogenic chemicals from plastic containers into bottled water. The chemicals can interfere with human health, potentially disrupting hormones, and contributing to the development of certain types of cancers or inflammatory diseases.
There is a significant difference in cost between bottled water and tap water. Bottled water is sold to the public at up to a thousandfold increase in price. Much bottled water is purified and packaged tap water. So, it could be said that purchasing bottled water is equivalent to throwing your money away.
The plastic waste generated by discarded bottled water packaging has an overwhelmingly negative environmental impact, contributing to the endangerment of ocean life and the pollution of the planet. Large ocean- dwelling creatures, such as sea turtles and whales, have been found dead or extremely malnourished, their tummies stuffed with plastic bottles. And, while some consumers do recycle, a lot don’t, leading to loads of plastic bottles being dumped in landfills that take centuries to break down.
The bottled water market is growing each year. For an increasing number of consumers, bottled water has become a seemingly indispensable part of their everyday lives. However, the conclusion seems clear: Bottled water is not truly better than tap.