Is tap water really safe to drink? Explained

Tap Water: Is it safe to drink or not? (Image via Unsplash / Bluewater Sweden)
Tap Water: Is it safe to drink? (Image via Unsplash/Bluewater Sweden)

Are you wondering whether tap water is safe to drink? With increasing concerns about water quality, many are questioning the safety of tap water.

In most parts of the United States and Canada, drinking water from the tap is considered safe for consumption. However, it's important to stay informed and be aware of any local water advisories.

Why access to safe drinking water is important

It's important to be vigilant. (Image via Unsplash/Leo Okuyama)
It's important to be vigilant. (Image via Unsplash/Leo Okuyama)

Safe drinking water is essential for overall well-being and is a basic necessity of life. It plays a vital role in maintaining hydration, promoting organ function and supporting overall health.

As concerns about the quality and safety of this water have grown, it's crucial to assess the extent of these concerns and explore the measures in place to ensure the safety of our water supply.

In most parts of the United States and Canada, tap water from public water systems is considered safe to drink. Properly filtered water is equally safe as bottled water and can provide essential minerals that may be lacking in bottled water.

However, it's important to remain vigilant and stay informed about local water advisories. Situations like broken water lines or equipment failures at water treatment plants can lead to temporary contamination.

Contaminants in tap water

Harmful contaminants found in water (Image via Unsplash/Rephile Water)
Harmful contaminants found in water (Image via Unsplash/Rephile Water)

Even though tap water is generally safe, it can still contain traces of contaminants. The Environmental Protection Agency has set limits on over 90 potential substances that may be unsafe for human consumption.

For example, the limit for arsenic, a toxic element, is set at 10 parts per billion. Additionally, tap water can contain microscopic amounts of other contaminants, like soil or sediment. However, these levels are typically not harmful for health.

Who is at a higher risk?

Can impact  health (Image via Pexels/Mauricio Mascaro)
Can impact health (Image via Pexels/Mauricio Mascaro)

Certain groups of people, like infants, young children, pregnant women and those with compromised immune systems, may be more vulnerable to contaminants in tap water.

Heavy metals like arsenic, mercury or lead can have a greater impact on these individuals and may cause adverse health effects like anemia, kidney damage or cancer.

It's crucial for these vulnerable groups to take extra precautions and ensure the safety of their drinking water.

Tap water safety in different regions

Safety protocols for water (Image via Unsplash/Imani)
Safety protocols for water (Image via Unsplash/Imani)

Tap water safety can vary from one country to another. In the United States, the Safe Drinking Water Act was enacted in 1974 to ensure the quality of public water systems.

The CDC says that the United States has one of the safest water systems globally, but private wells are not monitored by the EPA.

In Canada, drinking water goes through rigorous safety standards and is generally considered safe to consume. However, water advisories should still be taken into consideration.

The situation in Mexico is different, as the drinking water in many areas is not safe to drink, and travelers are often recommended to opt for bottled water.

How to determine water quality?

Determining the quality of water is not always possible through visual examination. The World Health Organization highlights that our senses are largely unable to detect water quality accurately.

Therefore, relying on Consumer Confidence Reports provided by local water suppliers and accessing information from the EPA can help assess the quality and safety of water.

Water from the tap in most parts of the United States and Canada is safe to drink from public water systems. Proper filtration ensures its safety and provides essential minerals. However, regular monitoring and awareness of local water advisories are crucial.

It's important to understand the components of drinking water, like minerals and contaminants, and their potential risks. While this water is generally safe, certain vulnerable groups should take extra precautions when traveling to different regions, especially in places with limited infrastructure

Edited by Bhargav