Your City’s Tap Water May Be Contaminated, But Bottled Water Isn’t the Answer (Filters Are)

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It’s definitely scary to learn about the toxins contaminating our drinking water. And it’s not uncommon to think that switching to bottled water will solve the problem. Unfortunately, it will not.

Like tap water, bottled water has been shown to contain contaminants, many of which are not regulated by the FDA and, therefore, do not have to be included in the bottled water company’s quality tests. You may have also heard that some bottled water is simply filtered tap water. But unlike local municipalities, these companies do not have to disclose the results of their water tests to consumers.

At least two independent studies (by EWG and a German study) have found pesticides, VOCs, bacteria, industrial chemicals, pharmaceuticals, and more in popular brands of bottled water.

The German study also noted that if the plastic water bottles are “exposed to high temperatures, they can become contaminated by the degradation of the material from which the bottle was made.” A recent 2018 study has also found particles of polypropylene and nylon that they believe may have leached from the bottle cap.

Health issues aside, bottled water is also expensive, costing up to hundreds of times more than tap water.

So, what is the solution?

A quality water purification system can help to remove unwanted contaminants from your tap water. While these systems can often be more expensive up front, you’ll likely find them to be a more cost-effective and healthier solution in the long run, compared to bottled water.

This more detailed article compares popular water filtration technologies, so you can more easily decide which is best for you. Here’s a quick summary:

  1. Reverse osmosis (RO) removes almost everything: bacteria/microorganisms, arsenic, fluoride, hexavalent chromium, nitrates, some pharmaceuticals, and perchlorate. In fact, RO filtration is so comprehensive that ALL minerals are removed, including beneficial minerals. For this reason, RO systems will often include a module that adds back calcium, magnesium, and (sometimes) other minerals. To fully replace the natural minerals that RO removes, users will often supplement with drops of seawater.
  2. Activated Carbon: The efficacy of activated carbon filters varies greatly. Some – which typically come in the form of the granulated carbon – only remove chlorine and are meant solely to improve taste and odor. Others – typically in the form of a carbon block – also remove solvents, pesticides, VOCs, mercury, lead, asbestos, some radioactive contaminants, large parasites, and some pharmaceuticals.
  3. Ceramic + Activated Carbon + Silver: Ceramic alone can block only solid contaminants such as cysts and sediment. But when combined with carbon and silver (which is a powerful antibiotic) the system also removes bacteria and parasites, chlorine, some radioactive contaminants, some pharmaceuticals, most solvents, pesticides, chemicals, and some heavy metals.
  4. Water Softeners remove barium, radium, mineral salts (that can build up in pipes and fixtures), and other electrically charged molecules (ions). The softening process uses sodium to replace minerals, such as calcium and magnesium. As a result, water softeners are not recommended for those seeking to lower their sodium intake. They are also not advised for watering plants and gardens.
  5. Distilled water machines heat your water enough to vaporize it, while leaving most minerals, heavy metals, and chemical contaminants in their liquid states in order to separate them from the steam. The machine then condenses the steam back into the water. The process is highly effective at removing most bacteria, viruses, and chemicals, however (like reverse osmosis) it also removes beneficial minerals and is therefore not recommended to drink regularly without re-mineralizing the water

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