Following our post about some of the misconceptions surrounding bottled water, we noticed the same question kept popping up in the comments. Here at Clean Up, we’re all about practical solutions to everyday environmental issues so wanted to take the time to address your questions and concerns! Below is a quick breakdown of one of our most frequently asked questions: Contaminants and Fluoride.
Is tap water safe – what about fluoride?
If you aren’t worried about fluoride but feel uncomfortable drinking straight tap water because of taste or concerns about contaminants, a great solution is to just grab an activated charcoal filter. We’ll cover both fluoride filters and regular water filters below.
Fluoride – This is a question that comes up a lot so rather than debating whether fluoride is good or bad, we respect everyone’s right to make their own health decisions. If you’re interested in finding out more, this is a great overview about fluoride in our water supply from the NSW government: http://www.health.nsw.gov.au/environment/water/Documents/fluoridation-questions-and-answers-nsw.pdf
Quick note – Australian water standards are in many cases more heavily regulated than bottled water manufacturing. The SMH article below is a great breakdown for the way in which what’s marketed simply as bottled water actually covers a large spectrum of different sources and filtering processes. A lot of bottled water is almost identical to tap water in terms of containing fluoride, etc – really, a lot of the time you’re paying for the bottle. http://www.smh.com.au/business/consumer-affairs/bottled-water-producer-admits-consumers-paying-for-plastic-not-pure-safe-water-20160715-gq6oif.html
Here’s what we recommend: If you have any concerns and usually buy bottled water, there’s good news – you can still enjoy tap!
Solution: Tap or Bottle Filter
Activated Charcoal Filter
Water filters are an easy, cheap and effective way to bring peace of mind when consuming tap water. Although we can assure you that Australian tap water is world standard safe drinking water, we understand some people might feel more comfortable with a filter.
You can grab a tap based filter from places like Bunnings or online from Companies like Brita. Here’s how charcoal filters work: http://science.howstuffworks.com/environmental/energy/question209.htm
We found some charcoal and alternative tap filters available here: https://www.bunnings.com.au/our-range/kitchen/kitchen-taps-sinks/water-filtration
Water bottles with filters are available from most major Australian retailers like Woolworths or Coles, or available online!
If you’re worried about either inorganic or organic compounds that occur in tap water – a charcoal filter will remove most of the ones that seem to cause immediate concern.
” The three types of filters that can remove fluoride are reverse osmosis, deionizers (which use ion-exchange resins), and activated alumina. Each of these filters should be able to remove about 90% of the fluoride. By contrast, “activated carbon” filters (e.g., Brita & Pur) do not remove fluoride.” – Fluoride Action Network
If you want to remove fluoride, you can obtain one of these three types of filters. Remember – just because water is bottled doesn’t mean it doesn’t contain fluoride. Here’s an article from the Australian Food Standards:
Unless your water is produced through reverse osmosis or labelled, there’s still a good chance it contains fluoride. If you are worried about it, your best bet for the environment and to alleviate your concerns is to get a specific filter and steer clear of bottled water. We feel compelled to say, many years of empirical review attests to the safety of fluoride in drinking water – but this is about solutions and as we said, we respect your right to make your own choices.
One of Clean Up’s Business Supporters is Healthy Water Technologies Australia and they offer a range of water filtration products https://hwta.com.au/
You can also grab bottle filters that remove fluoride as you drink – we found some for sale here: http://www.shopnaturally.com.au/water-filters.html
Many of these products are on the $$$ side but considering drinking 2L of bottled water everyday costs on average about $3000 a year, you’ll save money in the long run with an investment in a filter.
Disclaimer: Product mention is not an endorsement – we feel obligated to let you know we haven’t conducted empirical testing on the products and are merely offering options as per the manufacturer’s claims.
Summary: We want to offer practical solutions to your environmental problems, not make decisions about your health. Really, Australian drinking water is very rigorously tested by regulatory authorities and is often sampled/analysed more frequently than bottled water. If you want to avoid potential contaminants for your own peace of mind while still making great decisions for the environment; a filter is the best solution.You don’t have to choose between the environment and these concerns: we’re here to tell you, you can do both!
You can always get up to date information about your local water by Googling your city and “water quality report” An example of the Sydney website is here: http://www.sydneywater.com.au/SW/water-the-environment/how-we-manage-sydney-s-water/safe-drinking-water/daily-drinking-water-quality-report/index.htm
Have you got a question that you would like Clean Up to address that would make it easier for you to make environmentally friendly decisions? We want to know! Feel free to leave a question in the comments and we’ll try to find the best, easiest and most practical solution!