Is water that comes out of our taps really that bad for you?
The risks associated with drinking bottled water far outweigh the perceived benefits.There are places in the world that have tap water that is unfit for consumption, but in North America, these locations are few and far between. It is true that flooding, lead, fracking, or infrastructure issues may cause contamination issues, but municipalities are required to be very aware of their problems and make that knowledge public. This means that communities affected by contaminated water have knowledge of it. Yet, these people are not the leading consumers of bottled water.
Buying single-use water bottles are common at live events, in grocery stores, and eventually littering the street and landfills. They have become a synonymous with convenience, rather than being linked to necessity. The perceived danger of tap water is generally exaggerated, as there are many factors that make bottled water a much bigger risk. Filtered alkaline tap water helps balances the body’s pH and with detoxification, is the healthiest option for hydration, especially given the amount of chemicals used with bottled water.
What about Water Quality?
In fact, tap water in Canada and the United States is more regulated than bottled water. Municipal sources are required to follow the Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality, which outlines the maximum levels of potentially harmful substances in drinking water. These requirements make it necessary to test tap water constantly. For example, the City of Ottawa conducts more than 125 000 water tests a year to ensure compliance . The results of municipal testing of tap water is usually available to the public and the transparent results lead to accountability.
The guidelines that regulate bottled water is not subject to the same scrutiny as tap water. The Canadian Food and Drugs Act specifically limits the levels of arsenic, lead and coliform bacteria in bottled water, a stark difference from the several hundred contaminants that are controlled in tap water. Instead, the guidelines for bottled water are vague and states that food products must have no “poisonous or harmful substances” and must be prepared in sanitary conditions. Bottled water plants only get inspected on average once every three years, a far cry from municipal systems.
What do labels tell you when Buying water bottles?
If you buy bottled water, carfully scrutinizing the labels of the brand, what can that reveal? The labels on bottled water don’t necessarily bring clarity to the contents of the bottle. Outside of Quebec, the source of the bottled water does not need to be disclosed on the bottle unless it is spring or mineral water, which helps conceal the fact that bottled water can come from municipal water sources. With the extremely high markups on a bottle of water, not to mention the environmental footprint of manufacturing and shipping plastic bottles, it is against the interest of a company to reveal that their source is purified tap water. This is why some labels, like the popular Dasani and Aquafina brands, purposely have a lack of information on labels.
Potential Health Risks from chemicals
Most bottled water containers are made from polyethylene terephthalate (PET), normally a relatively safe chemical for a single-use container . However, the danger increases the longer that water is sitting in a bottle made with PET. Chemicals such as antimony trioxide, a catalyst and flame retardant, are released into the water over time.
Xenoestrogens are an example of a chemical that is released from plastic into their surroundings, which includes bottled water, as well as all other plastics. The water in bottled water itself may be low in contaminants when first packed, but the way it is transported fills your bottle full of hormone-disrupting chemicals such as anti-estrogens and anti-androgens, which can disrupt the production of testosterone in the body . The process of shipping bottled water uses containers and methods that result in high temperatures during transport, which aids in the release of chemicals into the water. In fact, a study on bottled water performed in 2009 found that there was widespread contamination of estrogen in bottled water . The researchers pointed to the materials used in plastic packaging as the culprit of the chemical leaching. Tap water shows none of the hormone-disrupting effects found in bottled water, making it a less dangerous option.
It is much better for your health and for the environment to stop buying bottled water and put forth effort in making water more convenient for you. Choosing tap water over bottled water may seem to be a hard transition, but there are a few ways to keep the convenience of bottled water with you. Invest in a water bottle free of dangerous BPA to carry tap water around with you. Some options you should consider buying are a high quality stainless steel, glass or, BPA-free plastic bottle. When drinking tap water, use a filter to remove excess contaminants. Alkaline water has been associated with increased energy levels, improved detoxification, and even the improvement in some symptoms of illnesses.
 Stastna, Kazi. Bottle vs. tap: 7 things to know about drinking water. CBC News. Retrieved from http://www.cbc.ca/news/health/bottle-vs-tap-7-things-to-know-about-drinking-water-1.2774182
 Top Bottled Water Risks: Are You Drinking This Toxic Rip-off? Dr Axe. Retrieved from https://draxe.com/bottled-water-risks/
 Wagner, M. and Oehlmann, J. Endocrine disruptors in bottled mineral water: total estrogenic burden and migration from plastic bottles. Environmental Science Pollution Resources. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19274472