Do you need a water purifier for healthy drinking water?
Tap water that comes from the public water supplier is highly regulated and therefore generally safe to drink in Europe. But what about the tap water that comes out of your faucet? Should we worry about it.
Ageing Water Infrastructure
In Europe, clean drinking water is generally available from the tap. However, the drinking water infrastructure is ageing across many countries, resulting in potential loss of quality levels of the water supply and sanitation services, leakage and spilling of water and broken or blocked wastewater pipes that can cause discharge of untreated sewage into local waterways (ref 1). Some segments of Europe’s 7 million+ miles of water pipes have been in operation for over 100 years. Moreover, decision and renovation cycles take 5-10 years. Investment in water infrastructure is not keeping pace with the challenges the Europe is facing, such as the growing population, urbanisation and climate change. To cope with these challenges, Europe needs to spend €45 Billion in order to modernise our infrastructure and protect health, the environment and reduce costs.
The simple truth is that we don’t know when and where the next crisis will happen. Therefore a water purifier such as a faucet tap filter is a good safety measure for healthy drinking water.
Contaminated pipes in the building?
Not all drinking water issues can be tackled by municipalities and water providers: many relate to pipes, leakage and contamination in private buildings and houses. Pipes get replaced over time but for instance houses built in the 1970s will not have their pipes replaced until the 2040-2070s based on standard replacement cycles. This implies that heavy metals, including lead, arsenic and tin, as well as other contaminants continue to become a serious risk for many homes and families for the foreseeable future.
A water purifier for the kitchen will substantially risk contamination from local pipes.
Public Perception of tap water
Our research shows that the public perception of tap water has worsened considerably over the past years. Over 75 million European households households primarily drink bottled water due to concerns about tap water.
This is in great contrast to reality. Annual reports from Europe’s water suppliers and audits by the regulators show that the tap water in general has a very high quality standard, at least equal to most bottled water (ref 2). But the public perception of tap water is different.
Highly chlorinated and hard water in some areas is perceived as being of inferior quality due to its flavour. As a result, the idea persists that tap water is not to be trusted. Practice shows otherwise: Over the past 10 years the number of reported incidents with tap water is considerbly less than bottled water.
What about bottled water?
Bottled water on the other hand is not safer. A recent Orb Media study found that 93% of all bottled water contains microplastics after tests on more than 250 bottles from 11 leading brands. For this consumers pay more than 500 times the cost of tap water. As if this wasn’t enough the plastic also leaches into the water which means that our bodies get contaminated with BPA and phthalates of which we don’t yet understand the long term impact.
So in reality you might actually need a water purifier for bottled water as well.
Clearly, a mentality change is needed to alter the consumption of bottled water towards tap water.
Do I need a water purifier for healthy drinking water?
From a long term perspective we don’t know if it makes any difference if you filter the tap water or not. The primary reason to use a water purifier such as a faucet water filter or pitcher is to improve taste.
But there is another good reason. We simply don’t know the health impact of microplastics, chlorine by-products and other recently found contaminants in the tap water. We also don’t know where the next Flint Michigan scandal will strike. Therefore a kitchen water filter could be seen as a cheap insurance. For as little as $60 per year you can make yourself and your family a little bit safer.
So there you go. Now it’s up to you to decide if you need a water purifier for healthier drinking water…