Is Your Tap Water Safe to Drink?
If you’re troubled by the taste, aroma, or appearance of the water that flows from your tap, you might be wondering if it’s safe to drink. You may be relieved to find out that in the United States, all municipal drinking water systems are regulated by the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), which requires the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to establish and enforce standards designed to protect the public’s health. As a result, if the source of your tap water is a public water system, you can feel confident that it meets certain safety standards.
On the other hand, private wells are not regulated under the SDWA. Therefore, if your tap water comes from a private well, you’ll need to take your own safety precautions. The best place to start is to have a certified laboratory test your drinking water. Then, if necessary, you can install an appropriate water treatment or filtration system to address any specific water quality issues that are identified through testing.
Of course, the safety and taste of water are two very different things. The flavor of tap water can be influenced by various contaminants that, while unpleasant, are not necessarily health concerns. Some common examples include:
- Chloramines — Often added to municipal drinking water systems to help prevent the outbreak of waterborne diseases, these chemical compounds, which contain chlorine and ammonia, serve as essential germ-killing disinfectants. While the relatively small amounts of chloramines that remain in treated water are safe to consume, some people believe they affect the smell and taste of the water (similar to the chlorine added to a swimming pool).
- Mineral content — As groundwater flows through the soil, it can pick up a variety of naturally occurring minerals, such as magnesium, calcium, potassium, sodium and hydrogen carbonate, all of which can ultimately affect its flavor. For instance, water that has a high mineral content may taste bitter or salty to some people.
- Metals — Corroded pipes and aging home plumbing systems can allow certain metals, such as iron, copper, manganese and zinc, to leach into tap water, sometimes giving it a metallic or medicinal aftertaste.
What constitutes “acceptable taste” is highly subjective. Regardless of your preferences, though, you’ll want to make sure that the flavor of your tap water doesn’t dissuade you from drinking enough to keep you healthy. If you don’t care for the taste of the tap water in your home, don’t resign yourself to buying and hauling an endless supply of plastic water bottles — try adding some flavor to your drinking water instead. Pass on store-bought flavoring agents in favor of something that is naturally delicious, such as orange or lemon slices, watermelon or pineapple chunks, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, or mint leaves. Or, you could purchase and use a water pitcher or bottle that has a built-in filtration system. Lastly, if you’re inclined, you might try boiling your tap water, which may improve its taste.
If you’d like more information on how to maintain and improve your health, please contact or visit South Tampa Immediate Care. Our walk-in clinic is conveniently located on South Howard Avenue in Tampa, FL, and no appointments are necessary.