Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Bottled Water vs. Tap Water

What is safer to drink: bottled water or tap water? Bottled water became extremely popular in the U.S. In fact, U.S. is considered the largest consumer of bottled water, consuming up to 7 billions gallons annually. It is just so easy to grab a bottle in your way to the gym, or have it for your kids when playing in the park, etc. In U.S. bottled water is regulated as a food by the Federal and Drug Administration (FDA) which requires that manufacturers are responsible for producing "safe, wholesome and truthfully" labeled bottled water products. The problem with the bottled water is the consumption of lots of energy necessary to produce the bottles and the production of avoidable garbage. In a recent BBC Panorama documentary, the British research revealed that the production of some bottled water brands generated up to 600 times more CO2 than tap water. In the same documentary it is said that the Australians spend more than $500 million a year on bottled water and only 35 percent of those bottles are recycled. The plastic most commonly used for the bottles is polyethylene terepthalate (PET), which is derived from crude oil. Hoping to diminish the environmental harm, some companies are considering a more ecological alternative by using biodegradable plastic called polylactic acid (PLA), which is derived from corn.

The tap water is regulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) including extensive regulations on the production, distribution and quality of drinking water; regulations on source water protection; regulations on operation of drinking water systems; regulations on contaminant levels; and regulations on reporting requirements. Given all these strict regulations, it seems that the tap water is safe to drink, at least the same or even safer that the bottled water. Considering that the bottled water take a long route until it reaches us and thus, going trough various climate changes (i.e. hot weather) that may determine the leach of chemical substances from the plastic, I think that tap water is safer to drink. To note that a considerable quantity of bottled water is actually tap water - that is just sold in a bottle. If trying to avoid the fluoride in the tap water, then bottled water is a solution although many brands have fluoride added.

Which one is safer? Check the quality of your own drinking water!

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