Over 13 billion gallons of bottled water are sold every year in the US alone.
This equates to over 50 billion plastic bottle waste which contributes to the decimation of our planet. The ironic thing about bottled water is that people buy it because of their fear surrounding tap water.
Of those who drink bottled water, many reports it’s because they don’t feel safe or trust the facilities that process it. Yet when it comes to thinking about the healthiest water to drink, these same people don’t seem to question the sources of the bottled water.
The industry is doing so well it has outpaced most beverage sales except for beer and soda. But since soda companies like Coca Cola also own the bottled water brands, it’s no wonder they’ve been successful.
Essentially, soda companies have used the same advertising tactics that worked for their sodas or consumers. Once soda was deemed unhealthy, they just switched to promoting their “pure” bottled water as healthy and their soda as nostalgic or a part of a fun-loving lifestyle.
Read on to learn why bottled water isn’t healthier and potentially even more dangerous than tap.
The Reality of Regulation
A common quote from the bottled water industry is that their water is regulated by the FDA to meet strict requirements.
While this is true, it ignores the fact that tap water is regulated by the EPA and has a different means of distribution.
Federal law has stated that the FDA needs to meet the same strict requirements as the EPA. But it’s in the very definition of what it means to “meet the requirements” that differences arise.
The Safe Drinking Water Act has a section that says that the FDA needs to respond to any changes made by the EPA.
They can either release a regulation that matches the change or publish a reason why they don’t think it applies to bottled water. Failure to do either means the EPA’s new rule comes into effect for the FDA anyway.
The issue with this is that it does give the FDA room to find ways for the bottled water to not follow the change. Once they make that distinction, bottled water is no longer held to that new regulation.
It doesn’t happen often, but after decades of changes, the gap has widened.
The EPA is the main governing body for the sanitation and standards of drinking water.
Between them and the FDA, roughly 80% of contaminants are subject to the same regulation. Beyond that, the EPA has set standards that the FDA has chosen to dismiss. Their reasoning is that the contaminants are not likely to be present in bottled water.
Of course, just because it’s unlikely doesn’t mean it isn’t possible.
Ultimately, there are strong similarities in the regulation of both bottled and tap water. So the idea that bottle is somehow healthier isn’t true from a regulatory standpoint.
Considering the Healthiest Water to Drink in Context
Water is an essential component to sustaining the life and health of our bodies. It aids with digestion, helping maintain internal temperatures, transferring nutrients around the body, and keeping our joints healthy and mobile.
Regardless of where you get your water, it is something you need to drink enough of every day.
A lot of the information on the internet tries to compare how certain countries benefit from bottled water over tap. For countries in the developing world with poor infrastructure, there is no argument that bottled water is a safer and more consistent choice.
But in a developed country like America, the infrastructure and government organizations ensure a high standard. While there have been outbreaks in the past, it is unfortunately due to the oversight of local communities ignoring the poorest neighborhoods.
This led to a boom in water pitchers with filters and bottled water in communities that actually had safe and clean tap water.
Where is the Danger?
Bottled water is often sold by saying it is tap water purified through a filtration process. Or that it is fresh spring water that has been treated to be clean and fresh.
Because of this, many assume that bottled water is safer and cleaner.
Ironically, research has pointed out that the danger comes from the plastic bottles that the water is held in. Studies showed that the longer water sits in a plastic bottle, the more chemicals from the plastic that enter the water.
Bottles which have been on shelves for many weeks in stores are frequently at risk of contamination. Even if the water was clean when packaged.
There is also the risk of microplastics entering the body which have yet to research for their impact on health.
These risks are very real and unlike tap water which has established distribution, bottled water varies per company with things like the plastic being less regulated.
Feel Safer About Your Tap Water
A lot of the time people feel afraid of their tap water because they don’t know about the process that goes into cleaning it.
Fortunately, the EPA publishes Consumer Confidence Reports for every area so you can read up on everything happening in your area. Many are surprised to learn about the huge efforts and funding that goes into their local water supply.
Of course, you can always add one final step to your tap water to help purify it yourself and ensure it’s the healthiest water to drink. Check out our range of water filters which can attach to your sinks, faucets, showers, and more.