Myth Busting: Bottled Water

Bottled Water is a Safer Alternative to Tap Water

Both come from the same sources (lakes, springs and aquifers), but tap water is actually subject to broader scrutiny than store bought bottled water.



Taste and Health Considerations

Tap water may taste slightly different from one town to another, but thorough EPA testing ensures that the water we get from the tap is highly potable. Water utilities must conduct their testing in certified labs, and report the results to state or federal officials. The FDA requires similar tests on bottled water - but does not require testing in certified labs or mandatory review as often.

If you are not satisfied with the taste of your local tap water, buy a water purifier.

Water purified at home typically costs around 18 cents a gallon, a fraction of the cost of a prepackaged 8 to 12-ounce bottle. The chlorine taste that has turned some consumers away from tap water is added to prevent bacteria growth - and is one of a number of elements, along with fluoride that typically are not added to bottled water.

Some of the most toxic chemicals in both bottled and tap water are tasteless and odorless.

Bottled water may contain chemicals that leach out of plastic bottles, which are often made of PET, or polyethylene terephthalate. The amounts that may leach into a typical plastic bottle are well below toxic levels, but leaving a PET bottle in the sun or a hot car can accelerate the process.

Further Reading

LA Times: "Bottled Water Versus Tap: Which is Safer to Drink?"

FDA: "Bottled Water: Better Than Tap?"

NRDC: "Bottled Water"

The Environmental Impact of Plastic Water Bottles

As bottled water became more popular, recycling rates for plastic PET bottles fell. While a typical water bottle can be consumed in a matter of minutes, it can take hundreds of years for such a bottle to decompose naturally. Increasing the recycling rate of plastic is important, but it is even more important to look at reducing the number of single use bottles purchased in the first place. A simple refillable plastic, stainless steel, or aluminum bottle filled with filtered or unfiltered tap water is the best way to stay hydrated throughout the day: it is better for your health, your pocket and the environment.

Further Reading

Container Recycling Institute: In the United States, 8 out of 10 plastic water bottles used become garbage or end up in a landfill.

PBS Point of View 2004: Not Disposable Anymore--"The energy we waste using bottled water would be enough to power 190,000 homes."

Earth Policy Institute "Making bottles to meet Americans’ demand for bottled water requires more than 17 million barrels of oil annually, enough to fuel more than 1 million U.S. cars for a year."


Myth Busted by Alexander Pfeiffenberger