Is bottled water safer?

Many people are surprised to find out that health standards for bottled water are no stricter than health standards for public water from the tap. In fact, until 1995 bottled water was not subject even to the same standards as tap water.

Water that has been distilled or treated by reverse osmosis can be considered very safe. "Spring water", however, is no guarantee of safety, since springs can be as easily contaminated as any other source of ground water.

Tests on bottled water are conducted by the manufacturer, but since results are not printed on the label, you have no way of knowing what level of contaminants (below the health standard) are present in the water.

Bottled water is an excellent alternative when public water supply is temporarily unsafe, such as after a flood or publicized contamination problem. It is also a good alternative for those with a private well that has been found to be contaminated. A water treatment system may be a more cost-effective long-term solution.

For more information on bottled water:

  • Bottled Water: Crystal Clear Choice or Cloudy Dilemma? This publication from the University of Illinois Cooperative Extension Service discusses how bottled water is regulated, what to look for on bottled water labels, and sources and types of bottled water.
  • The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) did a study of bottled water (Bottled Water: Pure Drink or Pure Hype) and found that bottled water sold in the United States is not necessarily cleaner or safer than most tap water.

 


For more information contact Jane Frankenberger (frankenb@purdue.edu)