Municipal tap water in the United States is some of the safest water you can drink. You can go to nearly any city in the country and drink the water without giving its safety a second thought. Nonetheless, many people choose to spend more for bottled water, or to purchase home treatment devices that will presumably modify tap water in a positive way.
No scientific study has ever concluded that bottled water is safer than tap water. According to the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), bottled water regulations are inadequate to assure consumers of either purity or safety. The Food and Drug Administration is responsible for bottled water safety, but the FDA’s rules completely exempt waters that are packaged and sold within the same state, which account for 60-70% of all bottled water sold in the United States. Even when bottled waters are covered by the FDA’s rules, they are subject to less rigorous testing and purity standards than those which apply to city tap water, which is regulated by Environmental Protection Agency. NRDC testing evaluated 1,000 bottles of 103 brands of bottled water. While most of the tested waters were found to be of high quality, about one-third of the waters tested contained levels of contamination – including synthetic organic chemicals, bacteria, and arsenic.
What about home treatment devices? Some devices can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars, and some result in a large water waste as high as 40%. Some will treat the water for the entire dwelling, some for one particular tap (kitchen, typically) and some for a receptacle such as a pitcher of water. A myriad of filters are available, and you should educate yourself and decide what your specific objectives are before purchase. It is important to keep in mind that all home water treatment devices need regular maintenance to operate effectively. For example, if filter cartridges are not changed on a regular basis, they can actually begin to harbor odors and tastes, bacteria and other contamination that will actually diminish the quality of the tap water.