Bottled Water vs. Tap Water: Which is really safer?

Do you drink bottled water because you believe it to be safer and healthier than tap water? 

In our efforts to make informed decisions and take responsibility for our own health and well-being, it makes sense to take a hard look at one of our most basic health needs — safe drinking water.

While tap water is regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency and state and local governments, bottled water is the responsibility of the Food and Drug Administration, and according to the non-profit consumer organization,

40 percent of bottled water originates from the tap, with added minerals or filtration. 

Municipal water is not permitted to contain E. coli or fecal coliform bacteria. FDA rules for bottled water include no such prohibitions.

Municipal water from surface sources must be filtered and disinfected, or it must have strict pollution controls. There are no filtration or disinfection requirements for bottled water at the federal level. The only source-water protection, filtration or disinfection provisions for bottled water are delegated to the states.

Cities must have their water tested by government-certified labs. No certification requirement exists for bottlers. 

Municipal tap water must be tested for coliform bacteria 100 or more times per month. Bottled water plants only have to test once a week.

In a June 9, 2009 report to Congress, the Government Accountability Office, stated:

FDA and state bottled water labeling requirements are similar to labeling requirements for other foods, but the information provided to consumers is less than what EPA requires of public water systems under the Safe Drinking Water Act. Like other foods, bottled water labels must list ingredients and nutritional information and are subject to the same prohibitions against misbranding. 

In 2000, FDA concluded that it was feasible for the bottled water industry to provide the same types of information to consumers that public water systems must provide. The agency was not required to conduct rulemaking to require that manufacturers provide such information to consumers, however, and it has not done so. 

Nevertheless, GAO’s work suggests that consumers may benefit from such additional information. For example, when GAO asked cognizant officials in a survey of the 50 states and the District of Columbia, whether their consumers had misconceptions about bottled water, many replied that consumers often believe that bottled water is safer or healthier than tap water. GAO found that information comparable to what public water systems are required to provide to consumers of tap water was available for only a small percentage of the 83 bottled water labels it reviewed, companies it contacted, or company Web sites it reviewed.

Above and beyond the health issue, bottled water comes at a much higher price than does tap water, both economically and environmentally. That’s two strikes against bottled water. So is it really safer than tap water?


More on water: 25 Things You Might Not Know About Water

Photo Credit: / CC BY 2.0


Nancy H.
Nancy H.5 years ago

More good info here on bottled water vs tap water - health advantages and disadvantages.

Ellyn S.
Ellyn S.5 years ago

Compare Water Filters - Learn which product is right for you


Ellyn S.
Ellyn S.5 years ago


New Study Fails to Refute Fluoride-Osteosarcoma Link

Ellyn S.
Ellyn S.5 years ago

Here is a part of the article:

The "Healthful" Drink that Can Damage Your Health

Fluoridation proponents are finally beginning to acknowledge the susceptibility of infants and children to excessive fluoride intakes, likely because they can no longer deny the obvious effects that fluoride has on the developing teeth, in the form of dental fluorosis.

Nearly 41 percent of adolescents aged 12-15 now have some form of dental fluorosis2, an outwardly visible sign of fluoride over-exposure and toxicity.

However, also included among those that are disproportionately impacted by fluoride are minorities and low-income families. The refusal by government agencies to consider these groups when determining enforceable safety standards or recommended levels for artificial fluoridation is no doubt a form of discrimination, contradicting any assertions by these agencies that they are working towards Environmental Justice for all.

Atlanta Civil Rights leaders Andrew Young and Reverend Dr. Gerald Durley recently requested that Georgia legislators repeal the state's mandatory water fluoridation law, based on the fact that fluoride can disproportionately harm poor citizens and black families.

According to a recent press release3 , the leaders "expressed concerns about the fairness, safety, and full disclosure regarding fluoridation in lette

Nancy H.
Nancy H.5 years ago

I agree that bottled water is not any better than tap water for all the reasons stated in this article--and many more! The bottom line is that both are relatively safe to drink, but neither on is healthy. Filtered drinking water is my preference--by far! You can check out some of the advantages of filtered drinking water here:

Valerie G.
Valerie G.5 years ago

Tap water for me!

Ellyn S.
Ellyn S.5 years ago

This is important information to know. The video is about 13 minutes long. Please consider sharing this information with others.

The Fluoride Deception exposes the truth about water fluoridation and the phosphate mining industry

Ellyn S.
Ellyn S.5 years ago

Fluoride Action Network continued, page 3:

During the final HHS meeting on HB312, committee members stated their support for infant notice legislation, and suggested that it be re-introduced in 2012, and require that the warning notice be placed on the annual consumer confidence reports sent to all public water customers by public water companies, and require by the federal Safe Drinking Water Act. This suggestion was also supported by the NH Dental Association, the NH Water Works Association, and the NH Municipal Association.

FAN plans on introducing our improved infant notice legislation in NH next year, but in the meantime we will also be working with legislators and advocates from across the country to introduce infant notice bills in as many communities as possible. Few states share the same constitutional roadblock as NH, and an unfunded mandate claim cannot be made against bills introduced at the municipal level.


Stuart Cooper, Campaign Manager

Fluoride Action Network

Ellyn S.
Ellyn S.5 years ago

Fluoride Action Network continued, page 2:

educating parents about infant exposure to fluoride, but believed that the notice should be given only in the doctors office, and not be placed on water bills where they claimed it could "scare" water customers. The Water Works Association opposed the bill for financial reason, claiming that they would have to spend money on additional ink and on re-formatting water bills to fit the notice.

An HHS subcommittee was assigned to review HB312 further, with the most pro-fluoride committee member, Rep. DiPentima, as chair of the subcommittee. Even with strong opposition from local dental and water works organizations, and a subcommittee chair who historically opposed FAN campaigns, the subcommittee ended their first meeting ready to pass the bill with a slight amendment to the wording of the notice.

Unfortunately, prior to the second subcommittee meeting the NH Municipal Association joined in opposition to the bill, arguing that it was unconstitutional because it required municipally-owned water companies to pay additional money for the ink necessary to print the warning on water bills, making it an unfunded mandate.

Despite NH Supreme Court precedent, and evidence from FAN showing that the bill was in fact constitutional, the argument was enough to put doubt into committee member's minds. The sub-committee recommended that the bill be "inexpedient to legislate" because of "possible constitutional conflicts".

Ellyn S.
Ellyn S.5 years ago

From Fluoride Action Network:

Last month we told you about two State Legislators in New Hampshire who introduced House Bill 312, an act relative to notice required for the fluoridation of drinking water (bill text). If passed into law, the bill would have required "public water systems which provide fluoridation to place a warning on all billing statements against fluoride-treated water for infants under the age of 12 months." This notice would have informed parents and caregivers in NH about the risks posed to infants from fluoridated tap water, helping to protect children from overexposure and dental fluorosis.

Sadly, last week the bill was killed by the NH legislature after the House Health and Human Services committee (HHS) recommended that it be "inexpedient to legislate".

In February, HHS held a public hearing where they heard testimony in support of the bill from more than a dozen people, including a dentist and fluorosis expert, a doctor, a public health nurse, multiple state legislators, and representatives from the NH Health Freedom Association, the NH Clean Water Association, and the Fluoride Action Network. Committee members also received more than 500 emails from local supporters, including written testimony from multiple NH pediatricians.

Several organizations opposed the bill, including the NH Dental Association, the NH Oral Health Coalition, and the NH Water Works Association. Both dental organizations claimed that they supported educati