Is It Safe To Drink Tap Water?

The stuff of life, the stuff of legends — and it comes right out of your tap. Clean water is an undeniable biological necessity, and the United Nations has defined clean water access as a basic human right. So is it safe to drink, cook with, and clean with the water right from your tap?

In the United States and in many other countries, there are government departments and agencies dedicated to ensuring clean water access. In the U.S., they are the FDA, EPA, and CDC. These agencies outline a minimum standard for tap water safety that every state must comply with, although many states have their own regulations that are even more stringent.

Generally in the U.S., it is completely safe to use and drink tap water. In fact, drinking more water is always a good idea.

In the event of contamination of a water source, the providers and the government will alert people in the area and give steps to deal with the situation. If you would like to ensure your water quality or have any questions pertaining to your local water, check online or call the EPA directly to get your questions answered.

Water testing

According to the EPA, tap water is tested rigorously under the National Primary Drinking Regulations (NPDR) for 90 different contaminants. These contaminants are listed under the following categories: microorganisms, disinfectants and their byproducts, inorganic chemicals, organic chemicals, and radionuclides. All of these substances can be harmful to humans when consumed, ingested, or otherwise come into contact with at high concentrations.

Certain substances are also added to tap water in an effort to keep it clean and relatively healthy, per Healthline. Fluoride is added to prevent tooth decay, for instance, and small trace amounts of chloride and chloramine are added to kill harmful bacteria in the water. 

Tap water also contains amounts of potassium, iron, phosphorus, and zinc, all of which can slightly alter the taste of tap water but are not harmful when consumed at appropriate levels. 

If you still feel apprehensive about drinking tap water — maybe because you don't trust the tap water being served at your local restaurant or you have underlying health conditions — make sure to talk to your doctor and give the EPA a call.