Bottled water vs. filtered water? Is filtered water better for you than tap or bottled water? What are the advantages of bottled water over filtered water? We choose to compare the three and come up with a scientific solution to the questions. For the sake of simplicity, the research is based in North America, but it will be applicable in many other parts of the world.
For the past 30 years, the bottled water and mineral water industries have persuaded us to believe that their water is the healthiest alternative. Is there, however, any genuine evidence or proof of this?
According to the US FDA, “bottled water branded “mineral water” must have no less than 250 parts per million of dissolved solids, originating from a geologically and physically protected subterranean water source, and cannot include additional minerals.”
In 2001, a North American study of bottled water showed that bottled water typically had the same quantity of minerals as tap water.
Many studies have been conducted to demonstrate the health advantages of certain minerals found in bottled water. This contains calcium, magnesium, bicarbonate, chloride, iron, and sulphate, as well as mixtures of these elements. These studies, however, confirmed that minerals are healthful, but not that mineral water is always healthier than other types of water. As stated above, drinking tap water or eating foods containing these minerals will give the same health advantages.
Many studies have also focused on the safety of bottled mineral water, specifically on the migration of chemicals from plastic containers to water, as well as microplastics and microbiological contamination. The major substances implicated in detrimental effects on human health are plasticizers (additives used to provide flexibility and handling qualities to various types of plastics) and endocrine disruptors (EDs – chemicals that interfere with the operation of the endocrine system).
Few people questioned the purity of public tap water 40 years ago. We were cautioned not to drink tap water in certain areas since delicate stomachs may take some time to adapt to the local bacteria culture, but that was all. Since then, a growing interest in health, as well as new studies on water pollutants (such as nitrates, lead, disinfection bi-products, and microplastics), have altered everything.
People are correct to be concerned, and raising awareness about a fluid that we ingest 2-3 liters of every day is a good thing. What is not good is that, as a result of these worries, far too many people have abandoned safe tap water in favor of bottled water.
In actuality, water regulation and treatment technology have significantly advanced over this time, and tap water quality is likely to be higher now. Recent advancements include strict control, filtration, and monitoring of arsenic in the United States, as well as the use of UV filtering in cities such as New York.
Assuming a daily water intake of 2-3 liters, the water would offer more than 1% of the required intake for only four minerals: copper (10%), calcium (6%), magnesium (5%), and salt (3%). With the highest concentration, it would provide around 20% of Ca, 23% of Mg, 10% of Zn, and 33% of Na. Most water suppliers give regularly updated online water quality reports that include minerals, pollutants, and other compounds. For information on local water quality in the United States, go to the EPA website. For further information, see the “Can I drink the tap water in…” section.
Across North America, one million kilometers of pipe transport drinking water. Many of those pipes were installed in the early to mid-twentieth century and have a lifetime of 75100 years. With utilities replacing pipes at a rate of 0.5 percent per year, replacing the system will take an estimated 200 years – roughly double the usable life of the pipes. Some of these pipes still contain lead and copper, but there are also leakage and contamination concerns.
People exposed to chlorinated drinking water or chemical derivatives of chlorination have an elevated risk of colorectal cancer, according to published studies. Observational studies also provide equivocal evidence that disinfection byproducts (DBPs) in drinking water are linked to colorectal cancer.
Filtered Tap Water
Home water filters aren’t new, but recent advances have enhanced the filtration process, made the filters easier to install and operate, cut costs, and significantly increased sustainability. This implies that installing a high-quality water filter at home is now feasible for every European or North American family. So, is filtered water healthier than unfiltered water, and what are the advantages of filtered water?
The type of water filter you use has a significant influence on the quality of the water. Because of bacteria development on the filter or the removal of all minerals, filtered water may be worse than tap water in some circumstances. Choose a filter that meets your installation, contaminant removal, volume filtered, and cost requirements. Always ensure that the brand is reputable and that the filters have been independently tested in compliance with international standards such as NSF.
Today’s most common water filters include pitchers/carafes, faucet filters, gravity filters, reverse osmosis, refrigerator filters, UV-light, and distillation, as well as activated carbon filters with or without ion exchange. A faucet filter with a carbon block is often the greatest value for money and provides enough filtration for Europe or North America.
Is filtered water healthier?
Both tap water and bottled water are experiencing severe problems due to pollution and outdated infrastructure, as detailed in this document. Some of these issues, such as microplastics, will require decades to resolve. As a result, point-of-use filters that eliminate or greatly decrease such pollutants can minimize contamination risk and hence enhance the health of individual homes.
According to a recent research, “activated carbon-based tap water filters might provide a significant short-term public health benefit through removal of halogenated DBPs, but regular filter cartridge exchange is necessary to maintain excellent filter efficacy.”
So, yes, filtered water is healthier than tap or bottled water, providing vital minerals are not lost and the filter is updated on a regular basis.
Some filters, such as reverse osmosis, remove all of the water’s beneficial and harmful components. This indicates that no minerals remain after the filtering procedure. With a diversified diet, this is unlikely to be an issue.
Another issue arises when the filters accidentally deteriorate the tap water over time.
A recent investigation of PoU reverse osmosis water filters discovered extensive bacterial contamination in the treatment units. Several more research have reached similar findings. The usage of reverse osmosis filters is only recommended if the devices are regularly and meticulously maintained.
This is also true with activated carbon filters, which capture but do not destroy germs. Because the filter cannot destroy germs, if it is not replaced on a regular basis, it may become a breeding habitat for the microorganisms. An old, unaltered PoU filter can be harmful because it can reintroduce germs into water that had been destroyed by chlorine in the tap. This danger is negligible as long as the filters are replaced according to the recommendations.
Similar studies conducted by a German laboratory showed that 24 of the 34 filters examined increased the quantity of germs. After 7 weeks, 4 out of 6 had a higher bacteria count than tap water.
Conclusion – bottled, filtered or tap water?
In North America, all three forms of water, including bottled mineral water, tap water, and filtered water, are usually safe to consume. As a result, the decision is truly about reducing risk and so enhancing long-term health prospects. It is impossible to completely remove risk, and because assessing risk is so complex, safety is essentially a question of managing risk to a tolerable degree rather than attempting to eradicate it entirely. The terms “safe” and “risk-free” are not synonymous.