Is Tap Water Safe to Drink?
Is tap water safe to drink? The short answer to this question is, yes. Tap water is generally safe to drink in most parts of the world. In the United States, tap water is closely regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The EPA sets standards for contaminants like lead and arsenic. The EPA has set limits on how much of these contaminants are allowed in tap water. This is so you can feel confident that your tap water should meet their standards and be relatively safe to drink.
Potential Contaminants in Tap Water
However, just because tap water meets the EPA’s regulations doesn’t mean it doesn’t contain any other contaminants or bacteria. Research has shown there are still some chemicals that are present in trace amounts in different parts of the country. These could be such things as nitrates, fertilizers, and pesticides from agricultural runoff. If you have a well on your property for drinking water, then you’ll want to test it periodically for contamination from surface pollutants or groundwater contamination from nearby septic systems, leaking sewer lines, or landfills.
Bacterial Contamination Risk
In addition to potential chemical contaminants in your local area, there can also be bacteria lurking in your drinking water. Bacteria can enter the system through broken pipes or improper maintenance at your local water treatment plant.
The most common types of bacteria found in tap water are coliform bacteria and E. coli. Both make you severely ill if consumed and not properly treated. To make sure these bacteria don’t enter home systems, it’s important if you become infected to always wash your hands and clean countertops. Pay attention when using and flushing toilets to use antiseptic sprays to clean up any “spills” and to flush every time used.
Most municipal water supplies are by definition public water systems that are mandated to provide safe drinking water to all those hooked up to the public drinking water distribution system. These water supplies achieve their high water quality through sophisticated water filter systems and are treated with man-made chemicals to kill germs, viruses, bacteria, and parasites, and remove debris that may be present in the water.
What’s In Tap Water?
As you think about whether tap water is safe to drink, you may be wondering what is in tap water?! Have you ever wondered what exactly is in the water that comes out of your taps? The answer, it turns out, is a bit more complicated than one might imagine. Tap water contains various minerals and chemicals, some of which are essential for our health and others that might be potentially hazardous. Let’s take a closer look into what’s really in tap water.
Tap water generally contains several key minerals and elements that can actually be beneficial to our health. These include calcium, magnesium, sodium, chloride, fluorine, and sulfur compounds as well as trace amounts of iron and other elements like manganese and zinc.
Calcium is especially important as it helps strengthen bones while also aiding in the body’s absorption of other minerals such as potassium. Magnesium helps with muscle performance, while sodium aids digestion and boosts electrolyte levels.
Chloride works to maintain optimal acidity levels in the bloodstream and keeps cells hydrated. Fluoride work to strengthen teeth enamel, which is why it’s so commonly added to public water supplies to help reduce tooth decay.
Sulfur compounds help neutralize any bad odor caused by unpleasant metals such as copper or zinc. Lastly, trace amounts of iron help with the transport of oxygen throughout the bloodstream among other things.
Unfortunately, there are also several compounds found in tap water from human activities that can be potentially hazardous to human health if consumed in excessive quantities over long periods of time.
These include fluoride (in large doses), lead (often from old plumbing pipes) nitrates/nitrites (from agricultural runoff), chlorine (added for disinfection purposes), and arsenic (which can occur naturally). High levels of lead are of particular concern and the cause of low consumer confidence reports in places like Flint, Michigan where pediatricians found lead in the blood of sick young children.
However, these contaminants should not be cause for alarm as they usually occur in relatively small concentrations. The water is tested and compared to safe drinking standards set by governmental agencies at both local and national levels. To ensure safety it is often recommended to use home filtration systems or specialized filters to remove these contaminants before drinking tap water regularly and assist in disease control.
It is clear that tap water contains both beneficial minerals as well certain contaminants depending on the region or town you live in. As long as you are aware of potential risks or have taken necessary precautions, then there should be no reason why tap water in your sink can’t serve its purpose of delivering safe quality drinking water supplies into your homes!
What Makes Tap Water Unsafe?
Tap water has become an indispensable part of modern life, providing us with an easy and readily available source of clean drinking water. However, despite the technological advances in water filtration systems and delivery infrastructure, tap water is still not always safe. Certain elements can contaminate it and make it potentially hazardous to drink.
In some parts of the world the infrastructure for delivering safe drinking water is either inadequate or outright non-existent so access to clean running water is a privilege rather than a right. In countries such as India, almost 70% of the groundwater from underground aquifers used for public consumption contained levels of fluoride higher than acceptable health standards set by the World Health Organization (WHO). Such situations are especially worrisome due to the potential long-term health effects that could result from the continued consumption of contaminated tap water. By the way, it is NOT recommended in India to drink tap water.
Do you remember the Flint, Michigan lead issue? As mentioned above, it wasn’t until a pediatrician questioned why so many kids had lead poisoning in that city. Flint Michigan Department Attorney Governor
Every year in Utah, we hear about contaminated water in various cities. The thing that is disturbing to me is that we often don’t hear about the “bad” water for a few days when a boil water directive is issued. Please don’t count on that water heater in your home for fresh water, in case the water in your city becomes contaminated. Here is a story from The Deseret News.
There are so many instances of water quality issues it would take me hours to post them. Please keep on top of your water supply. You can use reverse osmosis for daily water purification in your home. A Big Berkey, or another water purifier can be used as a stopgap until the local water system proves to be safe. The prevention of short and long-term health issues is a real concern and you don’t want outside sources prompting you to worry about prevention all the time.
My Personal Experience
Please note, I lived in a small town in northern Utah back in 1983, and the water had a peculiar taste. The color of the water was yellow, yes, you heard that right, yellow. I took a white container to the city filled with yellow water and asked them why it would be yellow and not clear. They said that our water is safe and we didn’t have to worry about the water.
I didn’t believe it, I immediately ordered water to be delivered to our home every two weeks in 5-gallon bottles. We would rotate the bottles and use them in a water dispensary unit.
A few years later after living there, we started noticing cancer rates in our town higher than in the rest of the state at that time. Next, we gathered several neighbors and walked around the neighborhood, and to our surprise, in every third house, someone was being treated for cancer or had died from cancer. Was it from the water, we will never know.
After we moved to Southern Utah, we invested in a reverse osmosis unit, yes it removes all the minerals, but it also removes 99.99% of all the bad stuff. It cost us about $100.00 a year to replace the filter cartridges and have the unit cleaned and serviced. It was worth every penny. We have never looked back. You can get one at Costco fairly cheap, not sure about Sam’s Club.
More Tips for Storing Water
- Water Storage: How Much Do You Really Need?
- Creative Water Storage Solutions for Emergencies
- How To Store Water-Pros And Cons
- Bottled Water: Is It Safe to Drink?
What is the Safe Water Drinking act of 1974?
As quoted from the website www.epa.gov: “The Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) was established to protect the quality of drinking water in the U.S. This law focuses on all waters actually or potentially designed for drinking use, whether from above ground or underground sources.
- The Act authorizes EPA to establish minimum standards to protect tap water and requires all owners or operators of public water systems to comply with these primary (health-related) standards.
- The 1996 amendments to SDWA require that EPA consider a detailed risk and cost assessment, and best peer-reviewed science, when developing these standards.
- State governments, which can be approved to implement these rules for EPA, also encourage attainment of secondary standards (nuisance-related).
- Under the Act, EPA also establishes minimum standards for state programs to protect underground sources of drinking water from endangerment by underground injection of fluids
It’s clear that while tap water offers many practical benefits, there are still certain threats associated with its consumption due to unforeseen contaminants or infrastructure shortcomings. The best way to ensure you are getting safe drinking water is to stay informed about your specific local situation and take necessary precautions if required. This could mean something as simple as installing home filtration systems or purchasing bottled alternatives when necessary. Let me know in the comments below what your personal experience, both good and bad, has been with your local water system. May God Bless this World, Linda
8 thoughts on “Is Tap Water Safe to Drink?”
The issue is trust. The same folks have brought as many issues and fixes.
The EPA isn’t exactly a friendly agency and often makes rogue police’s and laws without congress and has been recently spanked for it. They are more interested in agendas than reality.
Then locally bubba who treats the water may or may not be doing what’s needed. Then when there’s an issue the city manager or whoever makes the calls will often decide based on money rather than safety.
Hi Matt, I totally agree, this is why I wanted to write this post. We have to be diligent in testing our water or better yet, filter it. Reverse osmosis works for me, no electricity is needed. I hope others decide what is best for them, I know what works for me. Great comment, Linda
Great article as usual, Linda! We have a water filter under our kitchen sink that we use for drinking and cooking. It filters several different ways. Our water tastes really good.
Hi Deborah, filters make all the difference. There is nothing better than a really good-tasting glass of water. Linda
Ah – in my old age!! I have lost trust in any government agency: federal, state, county and city!!
Also, I do not want chlorine or fluoride in my drinking/cooking water! When my daughter was living in Seattle, you could smell the chlorine on certain days. I figured those were the days that the water treatment plants added the chlorine to whatever receptacle they kept the water in! That is when I bought them a Berkey (and myself one as well).
I have often wondered if a lot of our cancers and other terrible diseases are not caused by or exacerbated by the chemicals that remain in our tap water. I grew up on river water that came straight from a glacier so it probably wasn’t the best either, especially since it flowed through properties (ours as well) that ran cattle or sheep on the property!!
I did some research before buying a water filter. One of the things that concerned my during my research was pharmaceuticals in our tap water. We take medications and we pee out some of those medications that are not absorbed by our bodies. If you google are there pharmaceuticals in our tap water, you can find a number of articles. This is from one of the articles: “FROM THE WEBMD ARCHIVES
Tiny amounts of pharmaceuticals — including antibiotics, hormones, mood stabilizers, and other drugs — are in our drinking water supplies, according to a media report.
In an investigation by the Associated Press, drinking water supplies in 24 major metropolitan areas were found to include drugs.
According to the investigation, the drugs get into the drinking water supply through several routes: some people flush unneeded medication down toilets; other medicine gets into the water supply after people take medication, absorb some, and pass the rest out in urine or feces. Some pharmaceuticals remain even after wastewater treatments and cleansing by water treatment plants, the investigation showed.”
This makes me wonder about a number of issues: 1) our antibiotic resistant bacteria; 2) higher rates of infertility; 3) other issues where we “take in” medications that we don’t want or need!!
Not trying to fear monger anyone but this is why I filter my drinking/cooking water. If I lived in my own home, I could get whole house filtration!!
Hi Leanne, oh my gosh, thank you for sharing this information!!!! It totally makes sense. I cannot drink or cook with tap water, it’s just me. At the moment we are drinking “filtered” water from the refrigerator which isn’t the best filtering system! If and when our home gets started and completed, I will have two reverse osmosis systems just in the kitchen faucet. I wish I could afford an entire house of filtered water in the bathroom sinks and shower. We really do not know what is in our water, that’s what scares me. Linda
We DO NOT drink the tap water. We have it delivered from Culligan! Good article.
Hi Jess, yay, for Culligan water! I’m so glad you are not drinking tap water. The extra bottles give you a stash of water as well! Linda