Municipal water supplies and drinking water infrastructure have revolutionised living standards for billions of people around the world. Truly a modern miracle, the world revolves around the availability of the essential resource. Quality of water supply does vary based on location, with a variety of environmental and man-made factors affecting what comes out of the tap.
Concerns over the quality of tap water are well-founded and are not limited to traveling to different places and encountering new local bacterial cultures. As people have become more health-conscious, the interest in what we are exposed to through our water has grown. Many people turn to bottled water in the belief that they are consuming purer or mineral-heavy healthy water. Likewise, water filtration, an ancient science, has grown in popularity in homes.
What is the best option for a health-conscious consumer? Read the information below and get water-wise!
Why Mineral water is Good For You ?
First, we’ll take a look at some of the common minerals found in water supplies. Calcium and magnesium are vital minerals for bone and heart health found in most tap water supplies, particularly in hard water areas. Also found in a wide range of water supplies are sodium, copper, selenium, and potassium (essential minerals for the human body).
There are contaminants in water supplies that are undesirable or may have an adverse effect. These differ between tap, bottled and filtered water. Here we will look in detail at the three and discern the difference.
Is Tap Water Safe to Drink?
Tap water is subject to a lot more testing than bottled water. Contrary to some common misconceptions, tap water usually has the same or higher mineral content than bottled water. It is a widely available source of calcium and magnesium, and in hard water areas the mineral content exceeds that of mineral bottled water.
Fluoride is found in a lot of UK water supplies. Although it is subject to conspiracy theories, the fluoride content in water prevents dental health issues, especially amongst children.
In blind tests undertaken in the past, it has been found that people rarely tell the difference between tap and bottled water based on taste. Tap water with a bad taste is not indicative of a low-quality water supply. It may be a high content of minerals or the chlorine content that gives it the off taste. Chlorine is added to water in a vital part of the treatment process, as it kills off bacteria. Most areas in the UK have safe levels of chlorine but being aware of chlorine intake is wise. Higher-than-average chlorine content can lead to health risks such as colorectal cancer.
In addition to the risks posed by chlorine in water, roughly 25% of households in Europe have lead pipes. Lead contamination can lead to a variety of health issues. Most contaminated supplies have a negligible lead content, so it shouldn't be a cause for too much concern.
In summary, tap water is generally safe, often containing high amounts of nutrients. The risks with chlorine and lead are negligible and manageable with a good water filter.
Is Bottled Water Good for You?
Bottled water is popular largely due to its convenience, it’s widely available, ready packed into a suitable drinking container, and portable. To be classed as bottled mineral water in the EU, the water must have come from a spring or an underground reservoir, and contain specific health properties. A lot of bottled water is just tap water that has been run through a water filter (a quarter of the industry prepares its bottled water in this manner).
Many people prefer bottled water, either from concerns over tap water or due to a perceived preference in flavour (as mentioned before, studies have shown that people rarely tell the difference in test conditions). Despite this, bottled water is extremely wasteful and unsustainable as a water supply. Only 10% of the price of the bottle is the contents, the cost predominantly goes on the bottle and the branding. The industry produces obscene amounts of plastic (that takes over 700 years to decompose) that end up cluttering our streets and oceans, damaging our environment and wildlife.
Studies have shown that it’s not just bad for the environment, but it can be pretty bad for our bodies too. The health risks associated with bottled water also lie in the bottle. Plasticizers are an element of the plastic bottle, present to increase flexibility and usability. These compounds are known to have an adverse effect on the human body, especially when left exposed to sunlight.
In addition to the plasticizers, most bottled water (92%) tested has been shown to include microplastic particles. On average, bottled water contains up to 314.6 particles per liter. Regular bottled water drinkers could be consuming the equivalent of a credit card worth of plastic in a fortnight.
Is Filtered Water Better for You?
Installing a water filter is a cost-effective bottled water alternative. A filter can remove all impurities from water, such as chlorine, nitrates, and other contaminants such as pesticides and fertilizers that run into rivers from the groundwater supplies. Water filters have varying effects on results depending on the type of filter.
Some filters will target specific contaminants. For example, charcoal filters remove some impurities, but will mainly act to filter out chlorine. It’s a good option for those concerned about chlorination in the water who don’t want to miss out on minerals. Some systems, such as a reverse osmosis unit, will purify the water to the point where most impurities are removed. The result is super clear water. The only downsides are dealing with the wastewater and possibly adding more minerals to the water after if there is a lack of these in the general diet.
For health-conscious consumers, a water filter is a more cost-effective means for achieving cleaner water. The upfront cost may be more, and replacing them costs money, but when added together it is much cheaper than buying bottled water frequently.
It is worth researching and exploring a range of water filters to identify the best filter for a specific water supply.
In conclusion, tap water is generally safe when chlorine or lead levels are low enough. The presence of minerals such as calcium and magnesium provides an easy way to maintain these in the body. A good water filter will improve the taste and hygiene qualities of tap water, and there is a range of different filters that can fit specific needs. Bottled water comes in last, with its unsustainability, plastic content, and associated health issues rendering it a poor alternative to drinking tap water
Concerned over your water supply? Please don’t hesitate to get in touch at [email protected], call 01507 524576 or direct a question to our Facebook page, and our dedicated specialist technical team can perform an audit on our local water supply, and recommend the best filter based on the results.