Tag Archives: water quality

Should you drink tap water or bottled water?

This is the time of year, spring, when a lot of people switch to drinking bottled water instead of tap water. They do this because in their particular area the tap water seems to “go bad” … usually it is a mild smell or a slightly icky taste. This makes people fear their tap water, so they go to the store and buy bottled water. What has happened in many cases is that the local municipal water supply has done everything it can reasonably do to clean up and make nice the water that comes out of your tap, but there is this slight taste or smell because in the spring, that is what water does in many of our sources, including wells, rivers, and reservoirs. It depends on where you live, and it probably depends on the year as well.

Your municipal water is safe. Tap water always has “stuff” in it that is not H2O, but in the spring, some of that stuff is a bit more detectable than at other times of the year.

People are making two mistakes. 1) Not drinking the tap water because they think it is bad for them. It may be unpleasant, and that may be a reason to not drink it, but it is not bad for you. And, 2) quitting tap water forever, switching to bottled water because they think their water has gone bad forever. Or they just get used to the bottled water and stick with it.

Peter Gleick has a lot of information about Bottled Water, some of which is on his new blog. The total amount of Carbon you are releasing into the atmosphere by drinking a liter of bottled water is something like an order of magnitude greater than for tap water, for example. You just shouldn’t be using bottled water if you have a run of the mill municipal water supply.

Speaking of water, Skeptically Speaking just did a show on the topic:

Drinking Water

This week, we’re looking at the science and the history of the water that makes life and society possible. We’ll speak to law and environment professor James Salzman, about his book Drinking Water: A History. And we’re joined by Juewen Liu, chemistry professor at the University of Waterloo, to talk about his work using DNA to detect water-borne impurities that could make water unsafe.

Click here to get the podcast.

Photo Credit: Lightsurgery via Compfight cc

Other posts of interest:

Also of interest: In Search of Sungudogo: A novel of adventure and mystery, which is also an alternative history of the Skeptics Movement.