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Drinking Water, The Facts

Is water in a bottle any better than water from a tap? A 1999 report from the National Resources Defense Council found that bottled water wasn't necessarily any better or safer than most tap water. The truth is that it really depends on what is coming out of your particular faucet and tap. It may be just as good as what you can find on the super market shelves.

The trouble with a direct comparison between tap water and bottled is that both are regulated separately by different agencies and held to two different standards. This makes any true comparison difficult to make. However, experts in the bottled water arena say that 80 percent of all bottled water sold in the U.S. comes from natural, protected underground sources including wells and springs. The rest comes from the tap.

How Can You Tell If You Are Buying Tap Water?
The FDA requires bottled-water companies tell you if they are using municipal water sources. They must include a statement such as "from a community water system" or "from a municipal source" on the label unless the water has been distilled, deionized or treated by reverse osmosis.

If you want to buy bottled, read the label carefully and make sure you find one that has a consumer information phone number. This is your best bet against contaminates.

How Can I Tell If My Tap Water Is Safe?
Call your water authority and ask for its Consumer Confidence Report (CCR). This report, also found by visiting the EPA at, tells you where you water comes from and what contaminates are in it. It will also look at possible health risks that may occur when drinking the tap water.

If you have a well, you are going to have to bite the bullet and have your water tested.

If your pipes are your big worry, you can have those tested too. In some areas, the county health department offers free testing. It is worth a phone call to find out.

What Should I Do If There Are Contaminants?
The best place to start is to buy a filter. The type of contaminant present will determine the type of filter you need to buy. Be sure to look for one that bears the mark of the ISF International, the organization that sets the standards for filters.

Read the label on the filter carefully to make sure you are buying one that filters the contaminants present in your water. Not all filters are alike. Each filters out different elements.

Whatever filter you choose, whether it is a faucet filter or part of a pitcher system, be sure to change the filters regularly. Not only do expired filters not properly filter out contaminants, they can also become breeding grounds for bacteria. This can be worse than just drinking the water with the original contaminants.

Source: Based on information from the EPA and New Age Magazine.

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