Home Healthy Eating Drinking tap water: is it healthy?

Drinking tap water: is it healthy?

by Josephine Andrews
Published: Last Updated on 394 views

As the name suggests, tap water comes from the water pipe. The waterworks treat it before pumping it into the pipes. Drinking it saves money and avoids waste. But is it healthy to drink tap water? Find out here where tap water comes from, how closely it is controlled and how it differs from mineral water.

What’s in tap water?

Tap water is practical, it comes straight from the tap and only costs around half a cent per liter – including waste water costs. But what does it contain and can you drink tap water without worrying?

Tap water usually comes from ground or spring water, rivers or lakes. According to the Federal Environment Agency, tap water in Germany is of very good quality. Experts assume that tap water is healthy and free from pollutants and pathogens.

A strict drinking water ordinance specifies the quality of tap water. Health authorities monitor these regularly. The optimal pH value of tap water is between 7 and 8.5.

According to the Drinking Water Ordinance, the use of chlorine is permitted to treat or clean tap water. The amount is subject to legal regulations in Germany. If you live in a household with babies or small children or if you are pregnant, you can boil the tap water or use an activated carbon filter to be on the safe side. Activated carbon filters are available in hardware stores, for example.

Tap water contains minerals such as calcium and magnesium. They are largely responsible for the lime content (degree of hardness) of the water. The more calcium and magnesium there is in the water , the harder and harder it is.

Surveys have shown that “hard water” tends to taste better when cold, while people tend to prefer “soft water” for hot tea. However, the proportion of calcium and magnesium in tap water is not nearly enough to cover the daily requirement. This requires healthy foods such as fruit, vegetables, milk and whole grain products.

Tap water is generally low in sodium. However, since the content in the water varies from region to region, it is difficult to make a uniform statement.

Is tap water healthy?

Tap water is one of the most frequently and carefully controlled foods in Germany. There are even stricter regulations for tap water than for bottled mineral water.

The special feature: Tap water is checked when it is served, i.e. in the condition in which it will later be drunk. Bottled mineral water is checked when it is filled, but not after transport and storage.

So tap water is by no means dangerous or unhealthy. Even the chromium content that the Stiftung Warentest found in most tap water samples in a comparison of mineral and tap water was so low that it represents an extremely low risk.

Are there pesticides and drug residues in the tap water?

Since degradation products from agriculture get into the groundwater, they can also back up into the springs from which tap water is obtained. Stiftung Warentest found traces of pesticide residues in the tap water, but the amount was so small that there were no health risks. Pesticides are usually filtered out of drinking water.

Drug residues also get into the wastewater – through human excretions, from factory farming or improper disposal. Small concentrations can sometimes still be detected in tap water. However, they are so small that no health concerns arise from them.

The fear that hormones from excreted birth control pills are in the drinking water is also unfounded. So far, this has not been proven either in tap water or in mineral water.

nitrate in tap water

Factory farming has an impact on drinking water. Animal excrements are usually disposed of in fields. In addition, nitrate is found in agricultural fertilizers. If more nitrate reaches the soil than the plants can absorb, it ends up in the groundwater. Removing the nitrate from the water is complex and expensive.

In 2020, the federal government tightened the rules for fertilizing in fields. The first nitrate reports showed slight improvements.

Tap water from old pipes

Anyone who lives in an old building with partially or unrenovated pipes should be careful with their tap water. In this case, there is a risk of legionella. These are bacteria that thrive particularly well at water temperatures between 20 and 40 degrees, feed on sediment and lime and transmit Legionnaires’ disease.

However, landlords are required by law to check the drinking water for legionella every three years.

What is the difference between tap water and mineral water?

Tap water vs. bottled water? Tap water is at least as healthy as bottled mineral water. Tap water is subject to strict controls and is of high quality. It is therefore not possible to say that mineral water is in principle cleaner than tap water.

The assertion that there are more minerals per se in mineral water is also incorrect. According to Ökotest, there are no legal requirements as to how many minerals must be in mineral water. Tests showed that some varieties were very low in minerals. If mineral content is important to you, only go for bottles marked “High in Minerals”.

In summary, tap water is a good alternative to mineral water from the supermarket. It saves lugging, money and protects the environment.

How to test the quality of tap water at home

If you want to be sure that the quality of your tap water is harmless, for example because you want to mix baby food with it, you can find out more on the website of the water supply company in the respective city. If that doesn’t seem reliable enough either, you can order a test kit to take at home, which is available online from various providers.

Filter tap water and bubble yourself

Some consumers use a water filter before tap water goes into their glass. According to Stiftung Warentest, this softens the water. However, the filter must be cleaned regularly to prevent it from becoming contaminated and filtered substances from getting back into the water.

If you don’t want to do without the sparkling carbonic acid in your tap water, you can add it at the push of a button with a special bubbler device for your home. The carbon dioxide is often less fine than in purchased sparkling water and escapes from the DIY bottles faster than from sealed glass bottles. This saves you lugging the crates and a lot of money.

You may also like

Leave a Comment