Wednesday, August 8, 2007
Recently after San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom (2007) banned the purchase of bottled water by City funds, there has been greater discussion about the benefits and drawbacks of bottled water. Some argue that the transport and processing of bottled water as well as the disposal of bottles negatively impacts the environment. They also argue that tap water is as healthy as bottled water.
While municipalities across the country do remove a majority of water contaminants, it is also true that there are residual contaminants in the water. The disinfection process also adds chloramines and other byproducts. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates allowable levels of contaminants in drinking water. A list of contaminants and their possible adverse health effects is available on the EPA website:
The EPA categorizes possible water contaminants into: microorganisms, disinfectants, disinfection byproducts, inorganic chemicals, organic chemicals, and radionuclides. There can also be turbidity from soil runoff and other nonregulated contaminants. Not mentioned on this list are possible contaminants, such as copper or lead, after municipal processing from local water pipes.
In reviewing the water quality report for my local city, for instance, I found small and permissible amounts of lead, copper, barium, nitrate, atrazine (herbicide), simazine (herbicide), and chloramines, among others. Even if the low levels present are acceptable by EPA standards, it is a personal choice as to whether one would prefer to ingest even lower levels of contaminants and also have better tasting water.
One solution is to add a whole house/office or individual faucet water purification system to remove the residual contaminants. Seagull, for example, offers water purification systems with a “structured matrix technology” that remove trace amounts of chemicals and any microbiological contaminants found in tap water and creates water quality that is as good as or better than bottled water. In fact, the structured matrix is also “certified to meet the EPA standard for microbiological ‘purification’.”
There is also the added benefit of having purified water for pennies per glass instead of the higher cost for bottled water.