According to a recent study, British tap water is among the cleanest and most regulated in the world, so why do we still feel the need to buy bottled? Here’s why you might want to consider saving your money and drinking from the tap...
Fluoride Is Okay
Fluoride, naturally present (in low levels) in most drinking water in the UK and added by some authorities to prevent tooth decay, remains a controversial issue. However, as Nutritional Therapist Amelia Freer explains, “There may be some risk to health if you are exposed to very large amounts of fluoride, but this is unlikely to occur with normal, everyday water consumption. It’s generally thought that as long as water contains less than 1.5mg/l fluoride (the regulated UK upper limit), it won’t pose a risk to human health.”
Plastic Bottles Can Harm Hormones
Some experts believe BPA – a chemical used in some plastic bottles – can leach from plastic into the liquid inside. BPA has been proven to be an endocrine disruptor, meaning it can affect the natural ebb and flow of hormones in the body. Tests have shown BPA may promote breast cancer cell growth in women and even in low quantities can affect the thyroid, thus taking its toll on your metabolism. BPA has also been linked to PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome). While the majority of bottled water brands are BPA-free, it's worth noting that some re-fillable water bottles do contain BPA, so check before you use yours. Some experts also believe you should avoid exposing plastic bottles to the sun, which can exacerbate BPA leakage.
Plastic Harms The Planet
The environmental burden of bottled water is staggering. Imported water brands such as Volvic and Evian have 300 times the CO2 emissions per litre as a litre of tap water. As for bottles, it takes 162g of oil and seven litres of water to manufacture a one-litre bottle. Plus, while recycling rates in the UK have vastly improved in recent years, three out of four bottles – some 14bn – still end up in landfill every year.
London Ranks Top
For those living in the capital who think the tap water isn’t up to scratch, think again. A recent report from The Drinking Water Inspectorate found water in the Thames region passed a stringent set of tests 99.98% of the time. Tests were carried out on 168,000 samples from the region, measuring 40 different aspects of water quality including taste, odour and colour. Regions in the north aren’t far behind, with water still having a 99.94% pass rate.
Still not convinced? The average cost of a litre of tap water in the UK is 0.1p, so you can stay hydrated for the entire year for less than £1. In comparison, if you buy a two litre bottle of water every day, this could be costing you around £360 over the course of a year.
The Downside To Tap Water
Nutritionist Cassandra Barns suggests tap water isn’t entirely harmless as the likes of birth control pills and HRT as well as the hormones given to livestock can leach oestrogen into our water. If this is a concern for you, it could be worth filtering your tap water.
The Bottom Line?
As Amelia Freer explains, “Ultimately, the water that comes out of our taps in the UK is considered safe to drink, and is undoubtedly more ecologically sound than relying on bottled water. However, there are still a number of unanswered questions regarding specific treatment processes, and also the best type of filtration systems (if any) to use. It’s ultimately down to your personal preference, budget and taste.”
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