Is bottled water safer than tap? The answer is not so simple. The question of whether to drink bottled water instead of tap water may require more consideration than some people realize. Regardless of how safe tap water may or may not be, a strong school of thought supports the idea that plastic bottles are significantly worse for the environment than tap water.
This article will look at the benefits and dangers of both tap water and the bottled water industry. We will also discuss the pros and cons of drinking bottled water in comparison to drinking tap water.
What Is Tap Water?
Tap water is the water coming out of a faucet. You can also go to your local public utility company for tap water. Tap water is free and generally safe to use as long as you treat it appropriately. It is provided from lakes, rivers, or groundwater wells. Many people consider this “natural” resource of water safe because they often tend to drink from it. However, there is more to the environmental impact of tap water than just the amount of energy that goes into making the water.
Pros of Tap Water
1) Tapping is a very energy-efficient process. There is no need to heat water for distribution or to desalinate seawater. The energy comes from the Sun and gravity motion.
2) As it is free and easy to obtain, tap water is generally inexpensive to produce.
3) Tap water can be stored for long periods without significant deterioration and it generally does not need to be filtered.
4) Ground water is available from different sources, including tap, faucet, hand-pump, spring water in bottles, reverse osmosis (RO) purified water, and well water.
5) The quality of tap water is regulated at a high level by federal and state governments so there are fewer concerns with health or purity than with bottled water.
6) Researchers have found that some bottled waters are nothing more than tap water. Tap water may have lost some essential minerals through filtration or refinement but remains a safe commodity to consume.
Cons of Tap Water
1) Tap water is distributed by gravity and has transit issues. It cannot move to far-off locations easily.
2) The water is often dirty and may contain pathogens, especially in areas with older infrastructure or weak public health regulations. In many cases, tap water contains more uranium and other chemicals than the bottled water purchased.
For example, New York City has recent restrictions on some industrial chemicals found in tap water.
3) The filtering process entails different working methods that may expose people to lead, asbestos, and other harmful materials.
4) In major cities where the infrastructure has been damaged by storms or fire, tap water may be unsafe to drink.
5) Obtaining clean water at times can be a daunting task, especially in emergencies. Most public water-oriented places do not have enough storage facilities to supply everyone, even if they require it.
What Is Bottled Water?
This type of water comes in plastic containers of varying shapes and sizes. It comes from springs or natural underground water sources and can be found at most pharmacies, supermarkets, and convenience stores.
Pros of Bottled Water
1) Bottled water is portable and convenient to carry or bring to public places like parks, trips or parties. It saves time by reducing the movement for water in offices and lets you drink water whenever you need it.
2) Most bottled water has no significant aftertaste, unlike some tap waters. It is free from impurities. You can find a bottle of water that meets your specific needs.
3) The convenience of bottled water includes a wide range of flavors and options. You can find different quality of water which include carbonated and non-carbonated, sterile or mineral-oriented. The choices for the buyer are limitless.
4) Bottled water can be used in emergencies. It is portable, lightweight and keeps it stored for a long time for safe drinking practices.
5) Unlike tap water, bottled water does not need to be heated or purified for use. It travels from the source in the same way it was packaged.
6) Bottled water can be purchased from several places other than convenience stores that sell bottled water. You can buy water from supermarkets, grocery stores, local shops and gas stations.
7) Bottled water is accessible to everyone and is delivered to your homes or offices conveniently. You do not have to worry about water filtration systems or other inconveniences.
8) This type of water does not have the same legal restrictions as tap water in most areas of the United States. It can cost 2 to 10 times more than tap water, depending on the size of the bottle and where you are located.
9) Bottled water is safe to use. It may contain different chemicals and minerals that may or may not be suitable for you. Still, according to legal restrictions imposed on the companies, this action cannot be functional.
10) Economically, the bottled water industry enhances the circulation of capital and aids in the employment of various individuals from the labor class to the top tier. The sales of bottled water contribute to the economy and support small businesses.
11) It can be used in medical or cosmetic procedures that require sterile liquids such as clean water baths. This may include spa treatments, sauna treatments, and post-operation procedures where a certain level of sterility is required.
12) Most bottled water is tested for purity and quality and does not contain harmful contaminants such as bacteria, viruses, or heavy metals allowing you to drink water with confidence.
Cons of Bottled Water
1) Bottled water is not very environmental-friendly or sustainable. Although many people are trying to recycle their plastic bottles, the number of bottles in landfills and tossed on the side of the road is alarming.
2) Bottled mineral water can be harmful if stored in warm places for an extended period of time. Hot weather causes excessive sweating which can lead to mildew and mold on the inside.
3) It can be costly depending on the size and type of bottle. It may cost as much as $1 to $5 for a bottle of water.
4) Some bottled water filters tap water with a little bit of flavoring added to make it taste better. It is not necessarily better than tap water and is not as pure.
5) Bottled mineral water is not healthy if it is blended from several different sources including tap water that might contain chemical contaminants and various minerals.
6) This type of water is not free of toxins that may pose a serious health risk. Certain plastic bottles can leach toxic chemicals such as estrogen mimickers into the water. Also, the plastic may contain dangerous chemicals such as bisphenol-A.
A Comparison Based on Different Factors
After knowing the pros and cons of bottled and ground water, it is time to compare the two types based on different factors. This will help you decide whether to grab a water bottle when you feel thirsty or go to the tap and have a glass from it.
1) Health and Safety
The water quality for both types of water have some health hazards included. They both can contain chemicals that are harmful to health and can cause skin irritation, allergy, or food poisoning as well. But, the health risks for bottled water are less than tap water. Bottled water is mainly collected from springs and natural sources. It does not contain fluoride, lead, or chemicals that are harmful to health. However, tap water has a higher risk of containing chemicals that are detrimental to overall health.
2) Environmental Impact
The global economy is becoming more and more concerned with the environment, thus making environmental sustainability an essential factor in every aspect of the business. Bottled water uses large amounts of toxic materials which pollute the atmosphere with harmful chemicals.
The cost of bottled water is higher as compared to tap water. It is due to the plastic bottles that are required for sale purposes. They are more expensive than those used for tap water. Moreover, purchasing carbonated water also requires more energy, cost and resources due to its production.
Bottled water requires huge investment to be distributed as it is non-reusable compared to the options available for tap water. This makes bottled water an uneconomical commodity as it needs to be completed and distributed in bulk every time it is purchased.
Tap water can be tested by anyone and is much better in taste than bottled water. This also ensures that people can work out the testing methodology on their own rather than depend on the packaging a company provides.
Tap water is more convenient to use. It is readily available and easy to get. Bottled water requires you to carry it with you wherever you go and ensure that the bottle stays in good condition throughout its life cycle. Otherwise, your health will be at risk.
Bottled water does not need to be stored in cool environments just like tap water. It can stay for long periods of time under normal conditions. However, tap water needs to be stored in cold places to limit any entrainment of unwanted particles.
Bottled water is placed in plastic bottles which can be easily recycled. Additionally, the amount of plastic required to make bottled water taps on a large number of global resources and packaging companies to carry out this task, thereby increasing the carbon footprint.
Bottled water is not easily accessible in remote locations, unlike tap water. However, we can easily access tap water everywhere, even when we are traveling.
10) Energy Efficiency
Bottled water uses more energy than tap water which is a natural resource that can be easily accessed. Most bottled water uses energy during its production process along with carbon dioxide, toxic materials, and harmful chemicals.
Based on the above reasons, it is clear that tap water is better than bottled water. However, some people still prefer bottled water over tap water. This can be because they believe that the taste of tap water is not as good as the taste of bottled water. This might seem true to some extent.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Is bottled water healthier than tap water?
Yes, bottled water is much healthier than tap water because it is filtered through natural resources. Tap water quality is a bit lower as it contain more harmful chemicals that can damage the body’s immune system and should be avoided to protect health. It also contains fluoride, which acts as a toxin for the body system.
One needs to go through water quality reports that can provide immense data and information about the water source, annual water quality and potential health effects that can change accordingly.
2. Is bottled water necessarily more expensive than tap water?
Bottled water is undoubtedly more expensive than tap water. You may have to pay $1 to $5 for a bottle of water depending on the size and the bottle material.