Bottled Water: a Waste of Money?

According to Food & Water Watch, "the average cost of bottled water runs anywhere from $.89 to $8.26 per gallon. Tap water, on the other hand, costs $.0002 per gallon and a home filter costs $.10 to $.20 cents per gallon." A reasonable question, therefore, would be, "Do we really need to spend our hard-earned money on bottled water at a time when every penny counts more than it ever did before?"

Not too long ago, a report was released stating that the water in New York City was unsafe. Lead and other contaminants were reported to have been found in the water. As a result of this, many New Yorkers began buying bottled water. However, the truth of the matter is that purchasing a water filter can save you a considerable amount of money over buying bottled water, while achieving essentially the same results. The irony here is that bottled water is simply purified tap water.

In order to determine the type of water filter you need, you'll first have to determine what contaminants (if any) are in your local water. To do this, you can visit the Environmental Protection Agency's Local Drinking Water Information webpage, where you can print out an EPA report for your city and state. There are many affordable water filtration systems available. For a listing of the top ten filter systems, visit Water Filter Comparisons. They range in price from $24.95 to over $570. Each of the brands listed are stated to have received certification by the National Sanitation Foundation, Underwriters Laboratories and/or the California Department of Public Health, all of which require significant documentation of performance claims. Food & Water Watch also recommends that you consider these factors before selecting any water filter system:

  • "When you filter your tap water, you're taking out the disinfectants that prevent microbes and bacteria from growing. It's best to keep your filtered water in the refrigerator and treat it like stored food. Don't wait too long to drink it.
  • "Remember to change filters as the manufacturer recommends. A water filter left in too long reduces the efficiency and can even harm water quality. You may even notice a chlorine taste in the water.
  • "If you're pregnant, or you have a compromised immune system, talk to your doctor about the type of water filtration system to use. Bottled water is not necessarily the best choice. Make sure the filter is rated with an absolute one-micron filter."

Recently, reports arose concerning another problem associated with bottled water - the plastic containers. According to the National Resources Defense Council, "Recent research suggests that there could be cause for concern, and that the issue should be studied closely. Studies have shown that chemicals called phthalates, which are known to disrupt testosterone and other hormones, can leach into bottled water over time. One study found that water that had been stored for 10 weeks in plastic and in glass bottles contained phthalates, suggesting that the chemicals could be coming from the plastic cap or liner."

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