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here are many less developed countries where it is not possible to drink the tap water. In Australia we can drink good-quality, clean water straight from the tap. For us, tap water remains one of the healthiest, cheapest and most accessible beverages around. The presence of fluoride in the water adds extra benefit. Community water fluoridation is the single most effective public health measure in preventing tooth decay. Our tap water is regularly tested for bacteria and chemical contaminants, and purity standards imposed for tap water (which must comply with Australian drinking water guidelines) are stricter than those imposed by the national Food Standards Code that regulates bottled water.

TAP WATER IS AN EXCELLENT SOURCE OF HYDRATION Bottled water may also be carried around for some time following purchase and opening, allowing bacteria to multiply, especially if kept at room temperature. While some say bottled water tastes better, water tends to take on the flavour of the plastic in which it is stored, so water bottled in poor-quality plastic may taste worse than fresh tap water. And in blinded taste tests, most people could not distinguish between tap and bottled water. Tap water is free of sugar, fat, kilojoules, artificial colourings or flavourings. It is harmless when drunk in normal quantities and is an excellent form of hydration. While bought bottled water may be convenient, there is no health advantage and it is far more expensive and less environmentally friendly. For on-the-go hydration, it is best to carry fresh tap water in a clean, re-usable bottle.

■ Dr Cindy Pan has had over 10 years of clinical practice experience. Her books include Pandora’s Box: Lifting The Lid On Life’s Little Nasties (HarperCollins) and Playing Hard To Get (HarperCollins). She appears on television, lectures and speaks about all aspects of health, relationships and wellbeing.


ater is the essential nutrient. Life cannot be sustained without it. If your only option is dehydration or tap water, then obviously drink the tap water! If you have the opportunity to choose the healthiest choice, then choose something better. There is considerable concern about the risk of tap water being contaminated by various substances and organisms. Water from dams, rivers, boreholes or tanks may be contaminated by fuel emissions, industrial waste, human waste, chemicals, sewage, agricultural waste (including pesticides, fertilisers and animal waste), chemical spills, micro-organisms or drug residues. Water treatment may be insufficient to clean the water and remove any dangerous chemicals or organisms.

THE NATUROPATH LEAH HECHTMAN Treatment plants add chemicals to water that are designed to improve its quality and safety, however there are questions regarding the safety of some of these substances. Chemicals are often added that destroy micro-organisms. Commonly added chemicals include chlorine, chloramine, aluminium and fluoride. The pipes that water travels through may be contaminated, made of dangerous metals, or in poor condition. A common source of unavoidable copper comes from copper piping. So what do I drink? The best water to drink is spring water as that can be used as a therapeutic agent due to its mineral content. Alternatively, invest in quality water purification or filtration methods to protect you from heavy metals, chemicals, toxins and other nasties.

■ Leah Hechtman is a naturopath and fertility specialist. She is a lecturer, author, researcher and industry consultant and has her own clinical practice in Sydney, NSW. She specialises in fertility, reproductive and psychological health. For more information visit

Tap water  

HEALTH DEBATE 17 SUNDAY ■ Leah Hechtman is a naturopath and fertility specialist. She is a lecturer, author, researcher and industry consult...

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