The importance of water to humans is reflected through the famous adage 'water is life'. Proper and safe water drinking is an essential part of healthy living. Drinking water is categorized into two major types; tap water and bottled water. There are some differences and similarities between these two with regard to usage, but before we get to the comparison part, you need to understand each of them first.
Tap water is the common household running water that you receive in the home. In developing countries, a significant percentage of the population use tap water for drinking. Therefore, the availability of clean, pure water is often associated with public health issues. This is because drinking water might contain disinfectants (such as chlorine), disinfection byproducts (such as bromide and chlorite), organic chemicals (such as chlorobenzene), and inorganic chemicals (such as copper and barium). Some government policies recommend adding fluoride to the tap water for good dental health. But some experts are opposed to this idea, so adding fluoride to water remains controversial.
Bottled water refers to drinking water packaged in plastic bottles and commercially sold in the market. In the US, it is the most popular commercial beverage. As the popularity of other major beverages, like carbonated soft drinks, fruit beverages and milk continue to decline, bottled water has continued to show tremendous growth. Regulations about the drinking water quality in bottled water varies from one state to another. But the regulations are stricter in developed countries than developing countries. For instance, in the US, the government has set some quality standards for bottled water. Every manufacturing company is also required to label the quality of the water on the bottle.
Claims that bottled water is safer as compared to tap water might be wrong. Since 25% of bottled water is drawn from municipal water sources, it is hard to know which might be safer without comparing your running water with specific brands. According to many studies, the quality of tap water and bottled water are the same. The contamination levels in tap water vary depending on the country. In the US, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sets public drinking water standards while the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates bottled water standards.
When it comes to cost, some people prefer tap water to bottled water because it is much cheaper. Strange though that many people are fine with buying bottled water despite the fact it may be more than 100 times the cost of running water.
Though, bottled water is touted to be safer than tap water, there are no set standards for testing toxic chemicals and parasitic content in the former; while certain standards are set for the latter before its release for public use. Therefore, if you suffering from immune system problems, like cancer and diabetes, it is not advisable to use bottled water.
While health concerns are part of the reasons many people prefer bottled water, bottled is more convenient and tastes better than tap water. Many different researchers have taste-tested tap water against bottled water and while the findings are mixed, bottled water is certainly the undisputed champion of good taste.
The use of bottled water results in many environmental issues. In order to manufacture one liter of water, over 6 liters of water is used and this may result in water wastage. Though, the bottles may be recycled, many are disposed of in trash bins. Due to these reasons, many environmentalists oppose their use.
So what is the safest type of drinking water? Some studies suggest that the most common waterborne illness, Cryptosporidium, can be best eliminated by boiling water for a few minutes. Moreover, they recommend using a filter at the point of use or bottled water that has undergone an elaborate treatment process, such as reverse osmosis, ultraviolet light, distillation or filtration with a one micron filter. However, it is hard to know which companies follow these practices. A good percentage of bottled water brands do not provide any information about the water source, purity and contaminants present in their products. On the other hand, many municipalities provide such information to customers. Whereas tap water may not be perfect, it is more regulated and inspected more regularly than bottled water.