Research foundation to consumers: Get to know what’s in your drinking water
Alexandria, VA, May 6, 2014 — The Drinking Water Research Foundation is urging consumers to think about their drinking water during National Drinking Water Week this week.
Themed “What do you know about your H2O?”, this year’s drinking water week is an ideal reminder for consumers to remember to carefully read their water quality reports and ask questions about the quality of their drinking water.
“Many people in the United States are under the false assumption that their drinking water, because it is monitored and regulated by federal, state and local agencies, is always safe. But this is not always the case,” says Jack West, Drinking Water Research Foundation (DWRF) chairman.
A recently released research review paper by DWRF entitled: “Microbial Health Risks of Regulated Drinking Waters in the United States” concludes that, “it is clear that as a consequence of the differences in regulations, distribution systems, operating (manufacturing) practices, and microbial standards of quality, public drinking water supplies present a substantially higher human risk than do bottled waters for illness due to waterborne organisms.”
The paper is focused on a comparison of risk of public drinking water and bottled water, using data and statistics from a variety of sources, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and presentations from a 2009 drinking water symposium at Yale University. More specifically, this paper examines and compares the microbial health risks of tap water and bottled water, exploring differences in quality monitoring, regulatory standards violations, advisories, and distribution system conditions. It also includes comparison data on the number of waterborne illness outbreaks caused by both tap and bottled water.
The quality of drinking water in the United States is extensively monitored and regulated by federal, state and local agencies, yet a close examination of both public system drinking water and bottled water processing and distribution procedures reveals striking differences that could explain why consumers have safety concerns regarding tap water facts.
Tap water and bottled water are regulated by two different agencies: the EPA regulates public water system water (tap water) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates bottled water. By federal law, the FDA regulations governing the safety and quality of bottled water must be at least as stringent as the EPA standards that govern tap water. And, in some very important cases like lead, coliform bacteria, and E. coli, bottled water regulations are substantially more stringent.