Who Cares About Bottled vs. Tap Water Anyway?

Photo by cedsarlette | flickr.com

Picture this: I am your adamant friend who does not support the consumption of bottled water. I talk to you about how bottled water is bad for the environment, how it tastes funny and how it’s foolish that people pay for water with an “expiry date.” I sometimes get into arguments with your bottled water friend. The person who only consumes bottled water because they know about the dangers of tap water. This friend consistently warns me of the dangers of heavy metals, excess fluoride and bacteria in tap water that will cause me many health problems. Why do these two generic friends exist? Why are Canadians so polarized on the topic of bottled water vs. tap water?

Many people are influenced by the scare stories on both sides of the bottled water vs. tap water debate. For instance, on the bottled water side, there was the report from C-Crest Laboratories Inc. in 2010 which stated that over 70% of bottled water in Canada was contaminated with potentially dangerous levels of bacteria. On the tap water side, there was the Walkerton, Ontario tragedy in 2000 where improper water treatment resulted in e-coli poisoning and over seven people dying. Additionally, there are many people who are confused by the misconceptions about where bottled water and tap water come from.

Not all water that comes in a bottle is the same. Mineral water actually contains minerals, bottled water like Dasani is just filtered municipal tap water, glacial water is from a source glacier and natural water is untreated, filtered water from a natural source. In contrast unless marked, all tap water is the same! So the common misconception that your bathroom tap water is different than your kitchen sink is false. Bathroom tap water is just as safe as kitchen tap water is just as safe as water from your hose, as it all comes from the same municipal water source.

A 2010 study in the Journal of Water and Health revealed the breakdown of just how undecided Canadians were about the bottled water vs. tap water debate. The average water consumption of Canadians is: 38% for tap water, 40% for home treated water (filtered or boiled) and 22% for bottled water. However, these averages varied across a large number of factors. For instance, in Quebec the consumption of tap water was raised up to 46%. Additionally, households with children were more likely to consume predominately bottled water than households without children. Finally, participants with greater than a high school education were significantly less likely to consume bottled or filtered water. So I know what you are thinking, who is right? 

That will have to wait for my next article! Same bat-website, same bat-blog.