So you want to live a healthy life. You want good, clean water for yourself and your family. These are simple requests. Common requests. Things we, in America, take for granted. We, as a country, spend billions of dollars on bottled water every year. And for what? For the security of knowing that what we drink is clean and pure. But is it, really? Or should we go back to the tap?
First of all, what’s in bottled water? Don’t scoff, it’s a valid question. Who controls what is in our water? What tests are done to look for purity and cleanliness? What about the packaging? We’ve all heard about the dangers of plastic, does it affect out water or not?
Bottled Water Facts
- Some bottled water comes from sparkling springs, glaciers, and other pristine sources. But more than 25 percent of it comes from a municipal water supply.
- The EPA regulates tap water, while the FDA oversees bottled. Yet FDA oversight doesn’t apply to water packaged and sold within the same state, leaving some 60 to 70 percent of bottled water free of FDA regulation.
- Most bottled water comes in polyethylene terephthalate bottles, indicated by a number 1, PET or PETE on the bottle’s bottom. When stored in hot or warm temperatures, the plastic may leach chemicals into the water.
- Bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical found in polycarbonate (used to make water cooler jugs, sport-water bottles and other hard plastics, but not PET), may cause neurological and behavioral problems in fetuses, babies and kids. Adult exposure to BPA affects the brain, the female reproductive system and the immune system.
Secondly, what’s in tap water? Is it dirty? Where does it come from?
Tap Water Facts
- Tap water comes from local sources. Depending on where you live that could mean an aquifer, a lake, a river, or wells.
- If your water comes from a public source (rather than a well), you should get a water-quality or consumer-confidence report from the water company once a year. It’s also available at any time from the local water utility. Read the report carefully, making sure not only that your water has received a passing grade overall but also that contaminants haven’t exceeded the maximum allowable levels. You may want to look up what good levels should be. If you have well water, get it tested every year.
What about fluoride?
- Most bottled water doesn’t contain added fluoride. Kids are drinking more bottled water and less fluoridated tap, and some say that’s behind the recent rise in dental decay.
- If your tap water is fortified, and you drink it, you probably don’t need fluoride in bottled water. But if your family has well water without fluoride, drinks only bottled or uses a filter that removes fluoride (many do), ask your dentist about supplements for your child.
So, what should I drink?
- Filter your tap water. A simple charcoal water filter can remove contaminants and improve flavor.
- Get a canteen. Carry your plain or filtered tap water in a reusable stainless steel or lined drinking container, and clean it between uses.
- Shop smart. When you must have bottled, look for brands that have NSF certification or belong to IBWA.
- Keep it cool. Don’t drink from a bottle that’s been subjected to high temperatures (sitting in your car, for example), don’t store it anywhere it will be exposed to heat or chemicals (like a garage), and don’t reuse plastic bottles.