BACKGROUND: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sponsored a World Water Monitoring Day for kids on October 18. The kids monitored water flowing household taps, as well as in nearby streams and rivers, and sent that information back to EPA so that scientists could analyze them. They students tested samples for dissolved oxygen, pH levels, temperature and clarity (technically called turbidity). The global clean water event began in 1992 as a U.S. project and quickly became international in scope. In 2004, more than 50 nations participated, with just under 50,000 participants.
IS BOTTLED BETTER? Bottled water isn't necessarily safer than tap water; the FDA merely requires manufacturers to meet the basic tap water standards set by the EPA. So it largely depends on the brand: some brands are treated just like tap water, others are purified more. Anyone with a compromised immune system should carefully read the labels of bottled water to make sure it is sufficiently purified for their protection.
SECONDARY STANDARDS: Even if your tap water meets the EPA's basic requirement for safe drinking water, some people still object to the taste, smell or appearance of their water. These are aesthetic concerns, however, and therefore fall under the EPA's voluntary secondary standards. Some tap water is drinkable, but may be temporarily clouded because of air bubbles, or have a chlorine taste. A bleachy taste can be improved by letting the water stand exposed to the air for a while.