Although bottled water is not better or safer than most tap water in the United States – in fact, bottled water often comes from a tap – many people still buy into the myth that tap water is unsafe and they buy bottled water instead. This is an unnecessary and costly practice that few studies have looked into.
A new study from researchers at Amherst College and UCLA examined data about bottled water purchasing habits and tap water beliefs from the 2015 American Housing Survey and found that:
- Minority households more commonly believe their tap water is unsafe and buy bottled water instead.
- While the belief that tap water is unsafe is most prevalent among Hispanic households, Black households who believe their tap water is unsafe, more commonly buy bottled water.
- The estimated minimum annual expenditure for bottled water by all US-households who believe their tap water is unsafe is $5.65 billion.
Water authorities would be wise to invest in educational campaigns that take such concerns into account.