The Real Reason You Should Avoid Tap Water At Restaurants

To drink or not to drink tap water. That is the question — and it has been for some time. From flavored to sparkling, there are so many varieties of H2O available that tap water seems boring and blah in comparison. Flavor profile aside, drinking tap water can also be a matter of health.

Usually, tap water is safe to drink so long as it's filtered properly and adheres to guidelines outlined by the Safe Drinking Water Act by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. According to Medical News Today, tap water contains good-for-you minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and potassium, but unfortunately, it can easily be contaminated by rusty, leaky pipes. Whether you're drinking tap water at home, in a restaurant, or in an upscale hotel, it's possible for it to be polluted by some pretty harmful substances. Choosing other water options that can keep you just as hydrated is ideal.

4 dangerous contaminants in tap water

Kimberly Barnes, plant-based chef and founder of Might Be Vegan, told Eat This, Not That! that even under federal regulations tap water might contain traces of lead, chlorine, mercury, and herbicides.

The Mayo Clinic says it can take months for lead to build up in the body and symptoms of poisoning can be hard to pinpoint as they vary by age. In adults, high blood pressure, joint and muscle pain, and headaches are common signs.

Chlorination is a process in which up to 4 milligrams of chlorine are added to drinking water with the goal of killing parasites, bacteria, and viruses. Though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says this process is safe and assures chlorine levels are monitored by your water company, The Jerusalem Post in Israel states drinking chlorinated tap water can lead to congenital abnormalities in pregnant women, headaches, and insomnia. Issues with your respiratory health and digestive system are symptoms of chlorine poisoning, per Healthline.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), mercury is a neurotoxin — meaning it can poison nerve tissue. Drinking water with mercury in excess can damage your nervous system, kidneys, and gastrointestinal tract. Symptoms of high exposure include mood swings, memory loss, and mental disturbances.

The Environmental Working Group says weed killers are particularly dangerous for fetuses and can result in premature or low birth weights. Developing breathing problems, experiencing developmental delays, and an increased risk of cardiovascular disease are also common.