Can you drink tap water

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Can you drink tap water or should you stick with bottled water

Can you drink tap water? Or should you go for the bottled variety instead? What are the possible health concerns associated with it and should you be concerned? There are potential health concerns inherent in drinking the liquid from the tap.

How Do We Know For Sure That It's Safe?

The best possible way for one to find out whether or not they should drink from the tap is to contact their local utility. According to the, which is presented by the American Water Works Association, citizens should ask questions like:
  • How is it treated and what is the actual source of the supply? Is it a river, lake, aquifer, or something else?
  • Are my state standards different than those at the federal level? Are they more or less comprehensive than their federal counterparts?
  • Does your specific utility monitor and search for unregulated contaminants that may make their way into our systems?
  • How well has your particular utility done on complying with the Maximum Contaminant Levels, as well as monitoring and reporting requirements set up by the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA)?

Now, according to the website, it is hard to ascertain -- in so large an area as the United States -- whether or not everything that we drink from the faucet is 100 percent safe. With this being said, they go so far as to say that in most areas and under most circumstances, it is safe to drink. 

Just the Facts

Most suppliers within the United States meet the US Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) standards that they have set for healthy and safe drinking water. For these suppliers, it is about measuring concentrations of a particular contaminant, and thus, falling under the standards and guidelines imposed.

For cases in which a particular contaminant cannot be measured successfully, our suppliers will provide a specific treatment for the contaminant. Examples of this could be microbiological organisms apparent in the systems which can sicken humans. Suppliers will provide a treatment, such as disinfection or filtration, in order to rid the supply of that particular contaminant.

A Case Study from the Tampa Bay Times

Taking a look at a particular section of the country, chemical tests were done in the vicinity of St. Petersburg, Tampa, and Zephyrhills. It was a study meant to ascertain whether or not tap or bottled water was cleaner in the state of Florida. And what they found was that the local systems contained more in the way of harmful chemicals and metals, as compared to their counterparts in the bottling industry.

Obviously, this is one section of the country and there's more complexity here than at first understood. In this particular study, it was found that the bottled variety actually contained less in the way of helpful elements such as magnesium and calcium than that of tap water.

The bottled companies, as well as the cities, purify the liquid before it reaches our cups. But, the cities must then keep it clean as it moves through pipes for miles on end in order to finally end up in your faucet. According to the Times article, these pipes can actually contain harmful bacteria. Chloramine is added to the water in order to combat this bacteria. And it's uncertain what effects chloramine may have in terms of long-term health risks for tap drinkers.

All in all, the question of can you drink tap water is a complex one, that changes depending upon which area and section of the country in which you live. The answer also depends upon whether you use a whole house water filter, or using a filter on the tap you use for drinking water.

Overall, it appears that while there are certain safety concerns associated with drinking H2O from the faucet, for the most part, it is a safe bet in times that you need it.

Resources: Homepage.

Tampa Bay Times: Should You Drink Water From Bottle or Tap?

Above photo attributed to jcheng

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