Water is arguably the most essential nutrient for mankind’s survival. It is as important to the human existence as air itself. Water plays a plethora of roles in the body such as cleaning out toxic waste, aiding in digestion, strengthening the immune system, weight loss and increased energy to name a few. Fortunately for many of us in the western world region, we have unlimited access to water which is certainly a good thing.
However, in recent years, several debates have emerged as to what type of water is the best. Most water drinkers, and an overwhelming majority of fitness enthusiasts, drink bottled water. Poland Springs, Dasani, Smart Water and Aquafina are some of the top brands of water that grace the floors of fitness centers. Not too many people drink tap water for fear of contamination and uncleanliness. In fact there are perceptions among water drinkers that tap water shouldn’t be consumed at all and can cause harm to the body.
So is tap water really unsafe for us?
Well, not exactly.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is the United States Federal Agency that regulates water in America. This means water goes through inspection for safety before it is run through pipelines to our homes. In 1974, the EPA passed the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) which stipulates that safe, drinking water must be inspected and made available to the public. According to the EPA, tap water, if regulated, is just as safe as bottled water. Although bottled water is regulated by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA), it isn’t any safer or cleaner than tap water. The mere thought that water is packaged and presented in a sealed bottle gives water drinkers the belief that it is superior to tap water. This doesn’t mean bottled water isn’t safe. The EPA regulates and monitors tap water just as strictly as the FDA does to bottled water.
If you’re indecisive about what type of water to drink, here are a few things to consider:
Geographical Area: Thanks in large part to their population, New York and San Francisco have some of cleanest water in the country. In fact most inner cities have clean water. However, rural areas and farming towns may not be so lucky. If you live in one of these area, contact your local water agency and have them come test your water. Dialing 311 and speaking with an operator may also provide some useful information about your town’s water supply. The EPA website has tons of information on how to assess the safety of your water.
Use A Filter When In Doubt: Water filters have made it easier to comfortably ensure that the tap water we drink is clean and purified. The primary objective of a water filter is to remove contaminants and harmful chemicals from tap water. Top brands like Brita even highlight the exact contaminants that are targeted during filtering. Some modern filters can actually be attached directly to your faucet so water quickly goes from unfiltered to filtered as it gushes out. Keep in mind that many bottled waters are in fact filtered tap water so you may be better off filtering your own water while saving money and plastic.
Know The Source Of Your Water: Most big cities get their tap water from a community public water system that is supported by the SDWA. However in some rural towns, water supply is drawn from private wells. It is important to know that the SDWA does not cover private wells and bottled water. If your town’s source of water is a private well, your water could be at risk for chlorine and other hazardous organic chemicals. Many houses built during or before the 1970s contain lead-containing pipes which could also contaminate the water in the house. In both of these cases, contact your local water agency and have them come run a water test.
Special Situations Call For Bottled Water: Some people with unique medical conditions are better off drinking bottled water. Cancer and HIV patients can be very sensitive to even the smallest contaminant from tap water, especially while on certain medications. Drinking tap water of even filtered can reduce the functionality of the immune system. If you’re one of these people, ask your doctor for the best option.