Water … bottled, tap, or filtered?

Water … bottled, tap, or filtered?

In 2011, Americans purchased more than 9.1 billion gallons of bottled water — almost 30 gallons per person. This is the highest volume of bottled water ever sold in the United States.

Clearly, the demand for bottled water is growing, and the market is meeting those demands. There are many reasons people give for preferring bottled water — health benefits, better taste, convenience. Are these reasons necessarily true though?

According to Eatingwell.com, 40 percent of bottled water that is sold is only tap water from municipal sources that has been filtered — not bottled from the beautiful springs that some bottles would have you believe. These include popular brands such as Aquafina and Dasani.

The marketing of bottled water can be misleading. “For example, one brand of “spring water” whose label pictured a lake and mountains, actually

came from a well in an industrial facility’s parking lot,” wrote Erik Olson in a report from the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Health wise, one is not necessarily healthier than the other. While bottled water is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and tap water is regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), both have similar, or in some cases, identical standards.

Many studies have shown no real significant difference between most sources of tap water and their bottled brethren, both in the taste as well as health related issues.

One major difference you will notice between the two options is in cost — as bottled water will cost you quite a deal more than tap water. According to FastCompany, if all of our water usage cost the same as bottled water, you could expect your monthly water bill to be around $9,000.

Some groups have also raised concerns about the chemical phthalate, which is used to soften plastic, and has been linked with reproductive disorders and liver problems.

Perhaps the most controversial issue when it comes to the bottled versus tap debate is the use of fluoride, which many municipal water sources put into their drinking water, including Fenton.

According to both the Centers for Disease Control Prevention (CDC) and the American Dental Association (ADA), the appropriate use of fluoride is not only safe, it is an effective tool to prevent dental issues and promote dental health.

The American Cancer Society has said that there is no strong link between the use of fluoride in water and cancer.

“I don’t know that there are any cons,” said Fenton Water Plant Superintendent Steve Guy. “From what I read, the belief is that it helps prevent decay of the teeth. It actually can reverse it even.”

Still, fluoride is one reason many people have found themselves making the switch from tap water to bottled water.

Guy said that taste was a big complaint people had with the area’s water when the new treatment plant first opened. “It is understandable, it is sort of one of the effects when you change the treatment of the water, it changes the water itself,” he said. Guy said he still receives complaints about tap water taste, and the best advice he can give to improve it is to refrigerate the water before drinking.

The answer as to which should you drink, bottled water or tap water, is never a clear one. Just like how all bottled water is not created equal, neither is the tap water. Depending upon where you live and where your water comes from, water quality could differ wildly.

Beside tap and bottled water, you also have a third option — home filtered water. A water filter does not have to be expensive, and in fact, compared to the cost of regularly buying bottled water, it can be much less expensive.

A filtered water system gives you the benefits that the best types of bottled water have to offer right at your tap.

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