Which Water Is Best For Health? Hint: Don't Discount The Tap

Which Water Is Best For Health? Hint: Don't Discount The Tap

While some water filters are designed to screen out potentially deadly lead, many filters and bottled water with added minerals simply improve the taste of water.

You can buy water with electrolytes, minerals or completely "purified." You can buy it with the pH changed to make it alkaline. You can purify your own tap water or even add nutrients back into it. But after seeing a video of a pricey, high-tech filter (about $400 U.S. on sale) that you can monitor with your phone, we wondered, how much of our water filtration fixation is healthy, and how much of it is hype?

As it turns out, scientists say that most tap water in the U.S. is just as good as the water in bottles or streaming out of a filter.

"Assuming that the [tap] water satisfies all health and safety codes for the community, yeah, it's perfectly fine," says Dan Heil, a professor of health and human performance at Montana State University.

U.S. tap water is regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency, which sets safety thresholds for the amount of microorganisms, chemicals and other contaminants in the water. "In general, the drinking water quality in the U.S. is very good," says Stuart Batterman, a professor of environmental health sciences at University of Michigan.

Of course, there are exceptions, the most glaring being the lead pollution of Flint, Michigan's water brought on by crumbling infrastructure and government mismanagement. The toxic effects of lead can be especially troublesome in children, and even low levels of lead exposure have been linked to nervous system damage, learning disabilities, short stature and impaired hearing.

In a situation like that, there are quite a few filters that can remove lead from the water, according to the Environmental Working Group. Back in 2016, NPR created a test you can use to check if you have lead pipes in your home. If you want to investigate the safety of your water further, this tool can show you if your water is in compliance with federal drinking water standards.