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Most households have access to tap water, which they use to drink, bathe, brush their teeth, and to cook.
While there are ads all over the place to help you purify your water, or simply make it healthier than it already is, is tap water actually safe to consume?
In this article, we’ll answer the question, “Is tap water safe?”
Read on for more information to learn if you should fill your glasses straight from the tap or invest in a water filtration system.
Is Tap Water Safe?
Let’s get right into it. Is tap water safe?
Well, the answer isn’t as straightforward as one might think. This depends on your location and your health status.
Generally, tap water in the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and Western Europe is safe to drink. If the tap water where you live in one of these countries is not safe, you’ll likely know about it already. This can be due to natural disasters or other issues that affect the pipes the water flows through.
If the pipes, or the water at the source, are contaminated, it is best not to drink the tap water. In these extenuating circumstances, the local health authority will typically advise you on what you can and cannot drink. They will also let you know if boiling the water before drinking it is sufficient.
What About Filtration Systems?
Filtration systems may be able to rid your water of chlorine or pesticides in your drinking water. They don’t filter out anything that could make you sick if your water is very contaminated.
A filtration system is great for people who want to change up the taste of their water. Many people have tap water with some chemicals in it from the pipe system, and it can make the water taste funny. A filtration system can get that out.
Some people don’t like the tap water’s taste where they live, and that’s valid. If you’re one of those people, a filtration system could be the answer to help ensure you’re drinking water without buying tons of bottled water.
If the flavor of the water is the issue, you can also buy items that will carbonate your tap water and/or add a little bit of extra flavor to it. This can be a fun way to get in your water intake and is a healthier alternative to drinking sugary sodas.
The carbonation, however, will not filter your water.
Is Bottled Water Better Than Tap Water?
Generally, no. But some of this depends on personal preference.
In the United States, rules about what’s in bottled water are rather lax, and therefore, you could actually be drinking tap water from another part of the country. This means you’re paying a pretty penny for someone to simply turn on their tap and for you to waste a plastic bottle.
Depending on the brand, the water may be filtered or flavored. If this is something that you’re concerned about, check the label before buying it, and it will let you know how much of the water has been filtered.
As mentioned above, some bottled water is lightly flavored. If you prefer the flavor of the bottled water, then there’s nothing to stop you from buying it instead of drinking tap water. But, you should be aware that it doesn’t necessarily mean the water is more filtered or is any better for your body.
The only major difference between tap water and bottled water that isn’t straight up tap water is that the bottled water usually doesn’t have fluoride in it.
Is Tap Water Safe Everywhere?
No, it isn’t. This is because while most tap water is filtered at its source, the pipes in municipal systems are not always up to par. As such, many people advise that you do not drink tap water, or allow ice in your drinks, in a variety of countries.
This is most notable in Mexico, where tourists are routinely told not to drink the water. But, there are many other countries, from India to China to Ukraine, where tourists are advised against drinking the water.
While you can bathe in it, it is recommended that you drink only bottled water. Additionally, you should only brush your teeth with bottled water when you’re in these countries.
If you’re going out to restaurants that cater to tourists, you’re likely okay to drink the water and have ice cubes in your drinks. But don’t chance it on at a local restaurant or with a street vendor. Instead, stick to your bottle.
Health Risks of Tap Water
In general, there aren’t many risks one takes when drinking tap water in a western country. However, those with HIV and pregnant women are encouraged to speak with their doctors about whether they should drink tap water or filtered water. There may be some health concerns with tap water, even in developed countries, for these populations.
Drinking the Water
Drinking water is essential to maintain overall health. So the answer to the question, “Is tap water safe?” depends on where you are and your expectations of the water.
But, if you’re more of a coffee drinker (though you should still drink plenty of water), read our 10 surprising facts about the drink here.