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Question of the Week: Why do you drink bottled water or tap water?

2008 July 7

Each week we ask a question related to the environment. Please let us know your thoughts as comments. Feel free to respond to earlier comments or post new ideas. Previous questions.

Most Americans have safe tap water and drink tap water fresh from the kitchen faucet. Others choose to buy more expensive bottled water. But bottling and transporting water can carry environmental costs and use energy and resources, and bottles contribute to littering if not properly disposed of.

Why do you drink bottled water or tap water?


En español: Cada semana hacemos una pregunta relacionada al medio ambiente. Por favor comparta con nosotros sus pensamientos y comentarios. Siéntase en libertad de responder a comentarios anteriores o plantear nuevas ideas. Preguntas previas.

Muchos estadounidenses tienen agua potable sana y beben agua fresca del grifo de la cocina. Otros optan por comprar agua embotellada más cara. Sin embargo, el embotellar y transportar agua conlleva costos medioambientales y el uso de energía y recursos. Asimismo, las botellas contribuyen a los desperdicios si no se desechan adecuadamente.

¿Por qué toma agua embotellada o del grifo?

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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647 Responses leave one →
  1. Invaness permalink
    September 25, 2008

    I have no preferance I either drink tap water or bottled water. It all depends on where I am. I mean when you think about it, they’re both the same. I mean hello do you really think that the government is going to waste billions of dollars to fully clean water? Either way were not getting diaharria. We should all be thankful that we at least have clean water! What about all of those people out there that have to drink contaminated water due to the fact that they do not have sewer systems! Be happy that we have water avilable to us, unlike other countries!

  2. katherine permalink
    October 2, 2008

    i drink both, i do this becasue bottled water is expensive and can do bad things to the environment. I drink bottled water when on the go or not able to get tap water. Tap water i drink when i am at home and in places that i know that the tap water is not contaminated or anything.

  3. Taisha Venort permalink
    October 9, 2008

    Now we do have a reason not to drink tap water…..thinking that 60% of us water system contain fluoride is more than a fear…fluoridation of water is now evrywhere …what can we do about that? …..I am so concerned about the next generation that will have to face an habituation to such a revealed toxic chemical.

  4. julia c permalink
    November 1, 2008

    Tap water for me. it tastes fresh in CA

  5. Anonymous permalink
    November 4, 2008

    It isnt the chlorine that is causing the cancer. During the chlorination process, chlorine sometimes causes a chemical reaction with organic materials and other constitutes already in the water. This chemical reaction creates trihalomethanes (THM). It is the trihalomethanes that are cancer-causing, not the chlorine.
    Also, bottled water isn’t as angelical as you make it sound. Aquafina and Dasani started out as companies that took tap water and put it into bottles, yet they brag about their commitment to making a better drinking water.

  6. DDayJuno permalink
    November 4, 2008

    I agree with you. What is the point of whining and complaining and griping about the “dirty” water if no one wants to a) pay for research and new faucilities and b) actually USE the water when so much time and money went into supplying it.

  7. DDayJuno permalink
    November 4, 2008

    I agree with you about the fact that bottled water is probably infinitly better than sodas and things of that sort, but what I do not like about bottled water is that people seem to see it as an alternative to tap water. So many tax dollars are being spent on improving the US’s water system, and yet people still insist on buying their own over-priced water.

  8. DDayJuno permalink
    November 4, 2008

    What a waste of money! You are honestly thinking of buying WATER from a HEALTH FOOD STORE? Please tell me you were kidding.

  9. DDayJuno permalink
    November 4, 2008

    Plastic water bottles actually do have a chemical that seeps into the water after several uses. Because of this, they become even more wasteful: you can’t use it twice because of health risks and if you use it just once, you are sending another plastic bottle to the landfill.

  10. Angela permalink
    November 12, 2008

    Both. I drink filtered water out of my refrigerator at home. I think it tastes best out of anything, but I still add a splash of water for some flavor. I try to carry water with me in reuseable bottles as much as I can remember as to not create waste. But at work I drink bottled water because we don’t have a filter… and I can’t stand the chlorine taste in our tap water. At least those are large bottles of water… but I agree it’s not as nice. :)

    I do also have a chlorine filter for my shower water, which someone talked about early in the responses. It’s wonderful what it’s done for my skin.

  11. Angela permalink
    November 12, 2008

    Oops. I meant a splash of lemon. I don’t flavor my water with water!

  12. the man permalink
    November 22, 2008

    bottled water is disgusting and its more expesive

  13. Anonymous permalink
    December 15, 2008

    well said

  14. Andrew permalink
    December 15, 2008

    The USA has one of the safest water supplies in the world. With that said, tap water is not without its problems. As the EPA knows any regulation inacted must meet the economical of inforcement.

    With such a small portion of the water produced each day by public water supplies being used for human consumption (<1%) it is not economically feasible for these supplies to treat water to the level one needs for a more healthly lifestyle.

    Therefore this question has little to do with the quality issue of tap or bottled water but one of the environmental impact of the bottles.
    Whether the bottle has water, milk, juice or any other liquid or powder, food etc it makes no difference when the bottle ends up in the land fill!

    Alternatives to bottled water and tap water are available. Drinking water filters that have been certified by NSF/ANSI standards give the consumer the option of providing a final barrier of protection against unknown factors affecting our water supplies. check out or for certified systems. Standard 53 is the primary standard to look for when concerns are health related.

    Education of the factors affecting our water is important. I for one feel that being proactive in treating my tap water with addtional treatment equipment and filling reusable bottled for water on the go is a positive step for my body and the environment.

    Mqybe the EPA could do more in the area of recycling initatives of all bottles and plastic containers that impact our water supplies and environment.

  15. Anonymous permalink
    February 3, 2009

    well i got bad news for you because tap water contains “pthlates” that reduces the males sperm count

  16. hayley permalink
    March 5, 2009

    oh really. oh interesting!!!

  17. hayley permalink
    March 5, 2009

    I think that if you live in an area where you have the option to drink either tap water of bottled water then it is purely your choice. You can use the bottles from bottled water to hold other things, therefore recycling. I like the taste of bottled water better; it just tastes so much fresher to me. However, you should defiantly investigate the contents of the tap water in your area because there is a possibility of it not being safe. If that is the case, safety is first, you should defiantly just buy the bottled.

  18. Tess and micheal permalink
    June 3, 2009

    water is life you guys!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  19. Rebecca permalink
    July 15, 2009

    I do not think our city water is safe. It has drugs (prozac, other anti-depressants, etc), fluoride, heavy metals, chlorine, and more! I do not want to put those toxins in my body, and have spent a better part of my time detoxing my body from all the heavy metals especially, that I have been exposed to in my life.

    I have a Bottled Water dispenser at home that gives me hot and cold water. Very easy to use to get instant hot water for hot cocoa, tea, soup, etc. Currently we are on a well system and the well water is so hard — even after running it through a water softener. The taste is metallic and yucky. Bottled Water for me!

  20. Trusts scholarship permalink
    July 23, 2009

    And you know this how? Provide a reference please (a credible one, not wikipedia or someone’s blog).

  21. Trusts scholarship permalink
    July 23, 2009

    Wouldn’t it be cheaper to buy a couple of water bottles from a camping or sports store and refill those? They are tougher than the bottles designer water comes in and probably safer for repeated use.

  22. Mary permalink
    August 5, 2009

    I have to dilute my water with juiice some days because the chemical smell is so bad. Can something that smells so bad be healthy?

  23. brandy permalink
    August 9, 2009

    There was a small factory behind a friends house located in the middle of California that did not have a company name anywhere, not even the gate. I asked the guard what the company was and he said, Crystal Geyser. We are surrounded by agriculture and they are bottling filtered local tap water and selling it. No wonder it tastes terrible. Crystal Geyser is bottled in Bakersfield, CA.

  24. Alina permalink
    September 13, 2009

    The US allows 4.0 mg/L, yes 4!!!!!!!
    I have filtration to rid my families water of chlorine due to its harmful long-term effects. Do the research, it is right there!! Chlorine is already proven to cause bladder and various cancers. Maybe you don’t drink the water from the tap, I hear this often, but…. you shower and bath in the water. Over 70% of the chlorine enters our body through our skin(bathing) or steam inhalation(shower)!! PS- the only bottled water that is Not tap water is filtered through reverse-osmosis! Look for all 0’s in the daily values, everything else is tap!!!

  25. Robert R permalink
    September 22, 2009

    I really thing that bottled water in plastic is not healthy. Often it leeches into the water. Why cant we go to bottled water in glass? It would be much healthier! Also they are now starting to make it mandatory in CA for plastic water bottles to be replaced by expandable pouches because the plastic bottles take up to much room in the landfills!

  26. derek permalink
    November 26, 2009

    I dont understand why people in general are so scared of drinking water from a tap, I myself prefer to drink from a bottle put its pretty safe to drink from the tap if you collected some water from a stream then yes i would understand not drinking it, There’s bacteria, nasty viruses and there’s all sorts of other toxins that can be in the water — you can’t tell by looking. There’s certainly a bunch of parasites or some people call them protozoans.

    But if your only choice is tap water just look through your cookware set and find a pot were you can just simply add water and just boil it so you can help to purify it.

    I guess it all comes down to your water supplier for your tap water or were you live in the country. Bottled water seems the safest choice but as you say robert about drinking about water bottles leaking plastic are you kidding me when does it end all this safety i cant imagine the cavemen complaining that there water does not taste like evian.

    Any way i cant believe this post has got so many babys here that are to scared to drink water from a bottle grow up please nothing is perfect.

  27. Jane permalink
    November 29, 2009

    We drink bottled water because we have a personal toxic barometer in our family that tells us very accurately what is potentially toxic. How? People that are born with a defective gene that causes porphyria are missing a key enzyme that aids the detoxification pathways in the body. They literally cannot detoxify the meds, toxins, alcohol, etc that all us “normal” folks do on a regular basis. After switching from drinking tap water and even PUR purified water to drinking purified bottled water this family member got sick much less frequently. He did the experiment several times over several years and it always came back the same. Other toxins to beware of – ice from ice machines in commercial environments. Are they safe for you and I because we have all our enzymes? Any enzyme can be overloaded so I approach with caution anything that consistently makes this family member ill.

  28. Medifast permalink
    January 6, 2010

    I think that tap water is overly treated with chemicals and sometimes not safe to drink.

  29. lseamore permalink
    January 21, 2010

    I agree, tap water have corrosive elements that disintegrated my sink from its former glory. Now, imagine what it will do to my intestines.

  30. Jennie permalink
    February 9, 2010

    This is really effective question which is related with human health, but I always drink fresh water neither bottled water nor tap water.

  31. Anonymous permalink
    February 24, 2010

    I absolutely agree that tap water in the US is not safe to drink as the acceptable levels of chlorine,lead, nitrite,etc seem to be much higher than in other countries.After moving to the US a few years ago I started experiencing unusual digestive problems-once I go to another country they are gone. People don’t bother reading about harmful substances present in food and water, that have been scientifically proven to be related to cancer or at least increasing the risk of getting the desease.Look at the statistics-Americans are much less healthier than other nations in the Western world-it’s not just the health care system,it’s the environment they are exposed to, and the food and drink people take.

  32. mjk permalink
    March 4, 2010

    check the ‘ingredients’ to your bottle water. i don’t know if they add it or if the water companies find water sources with the composition to make it taste better.

  33. Kim - Kidney Stones Symptoms permalink
    October 6, 2010

    I’m privileged to be in a city where the tap water is certified safe for drinking. For those who aren’t, there are several types of filters now that can convert tap water according to your needs. Plastic bottles do have the possibility of contaminating the drinking water with harmful chemicals.

  34. jovino permalink
    December 2, 2010

    i think bottled water can contain more chemicals than tap because of the chemicals used to make the plastic bottle, which touches the water! which is why bottled water sometimes taste funny

  35. jovino permalink
    December 2, 2010

    but tap water can contain chemicals or anything because bugs can get into the water system which can lead to a BIG problem for mine and your own health

  36. jovino permalink
    December 2, 2010

    which is why i dont drink water

  37. David permalink
    December 11, 2010

    I go for filtered water all the time. I started reading what “acceptable” levels of chemicals where in the drinking water, and was horrified. Spent ages looking into water filters as well.

  38. Vincest permalink
    April 12, 2011

    The problem is not the taste per se as it is the
    chemical and toxins in your water supply that
    go completely ignored.

    Lets not even get into the floride issue which is incredible.

  39. vincest permalink
    April 12, 2011

    Agreed! most public drinking water is terrible and toxic.

    High quality spring water is excellent as well as distilled water for 3 to 4 months will help eliminate toxins.

  40. internet marketing secret permalink
    May 3, 2011

    I live in Central CA and my tap water is just fine! I grew up on well water, and it was fine. I’m drinking a big cup of tap water right now! Cheaper than bottled and better for the environment!

  41. JOO : permalink
    October 1, 2011

    Tap water is ok but you need to filter before drink.

  42. Grace permalink
    October 13, 2011

    Both my mother and my boyfriends parents have consumed mainly tap water (unfiltered) all their lives and they are in perfect health. All parties are in their nineties. To me, that means tap water may not be all that bad for your health.

  43. cleaning in birmingham permalink
    November 8, 2011

    Yes, I agree. Tap water is fine to drink. I’ve been drinking it all my life and I’ve never had any sickness related to drinking of tap water. :)

  44. April 28, 2012

    I drink tap water to save money. Bottled water is an unnecessary commercial enterprise and the people who support it are being duped.

  45. June 11, 2012

    I blog often and I genuinely appreciate your content. Your article has really peaked my interest. I am going to take a note of your blog and keep checking for new details about once per week. I subscribed to your Feed as well

  46. Water purification permalink
    July 23, 2013

    Water purification is Australias premier manufacturer of filtered boiling and chilled water units for use in private and commercial applications. Manufactured in Victoria and represented nationally.

  47. October 12, 2013

    People keep asking why other people don’t use tap water. We gladly would, if our tap water wasn’t killing us. It took me ten years to figure out that my town’s water, which is treated with chloramine, was giving me life threatening complications. For me, these included life threatening respiratory problems, post nasal drip, constant sinus infections that became increasingly severe and less responsive to medicine, rashes whenever I shower, digestive symptoms such as pains in my stomach and kidneys, bladder irritation, weight loss…. all vanish when I use bottled water. I am forced to shower by pouring spring water over my head. Believe me I would love the luxury of turning on my tap to take or shower or drink. But I’m at the point where running my dishwasher can cost me my life (I have to leave or go to another floor to run it). It gets progressively worse for all sufferers. I stand to lose my ability to work, my home, and many other issues that are more than just an inconvenience. I use bottled spring water because I have no choice. To add insult to injury, not only am I paying heavily for bottled water (which has toxins from plastic bottles), but I must pay for the water coming into my faucet, which is killing me. All this talk about being environmentally friendly by using tap water…. how about let’s be environmentally friendly by treating tap water with things that won’t kill civilian populations. In that case I’d be happy to drink for my tap. I’d pay extra every month for that privilege (would be a heck of a lot cheaper than all the $ I have to spend on bottled water).

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