Drinking water: What is the quality of our tap water?

More and more people are giving up buying  mineral water  and instead drinking tap water or making their own carbonated mineral water with soda makers. But is clear water always clean? We inform you about the quality of drinking water here.

Water – a strictly controlled food

Humans can only survive a few days without water. The healthiest drink for the body is water. Drinking water is obtained from river, lake, spring or ground water.

Before it is available for the public network, it goes through several cleaning steps. The water that comes from our pipes is subject to the strict regulations of the German Water Ordinance – it is probably the most strictly controlled  food in Germany .

Safe water runs through our pipes, but this can be contaminated by metals such as  copper  and lead from water pipes. And what about pollutants such as nitrate from the soil?

How clean is our tap water?

More than half of all drinking water pipes in Germany are made of  copper  . Copper is an essential trace element for humans, of which adults should consume around 1 to 1.5 milligrams daily. However, if the water has an acidic pH value below 7, the copper can be released from the pipes and accumulate in the water.

Lead  water pipes were installed up until the 1970s  . Lead is toxic in large quantities, especially for children. Soft water in combination with such pipes can lead to high concentrations of lead in tap water, which can cause health problems. Therefore, all lead pipes in households should be replaced.

Nitrate and nitrite in drinking water

Nitrate and nitrite are among other things components of fertilizers. Depending on the oxygen content of the water, they are converted into one another. Nitrate dissolves easily in water and can therefore get into the groundwater when the soil is washed out with rain. Nitrate levels may be elevated in areas with heavy agriculture or intensive viticulture.

According to the Drinking Water Ordinance, the limit value for nitrate is 50 milligrams per liter. If this limit is exceeded, the water must not even get into our pipes. Drinking water contributes about 25 percent to our nitrate intake,  vegetables  60 percent.

exposure to uranium

Studies in recent years have repeatedly shown that the tap water in many regions is too heavily contaminated with uranium. The limit is 10 micrograms of uranium per liter of water. This is above the critical value for small children.

Families with small children should therefore have their water tested and possibly use mineral water from bottles for the production of food – too high uranium values ​​are marked there as “not suitable for the preparation of baby food”.

Check tap water

You can buy quick and easy test strips, among other things for measuring the pH value and the degree of hardness, in pharmacies. More precise water analyzes are carried out by your local waterworks and can also be commissioned (for a fee) from independent institutes.

Soda maker yes or no?

Despite the limitations mentioned above: the strict legal requirements ensure very good water quality in Germany. If you keep a few things in mind when making your own sparkling mineral water, tap water is an ideal thirst quencher.

However, you should bear in mind that the tap water you have “fizzed” yourself does not contain the amount of vital minerals (e.g.  calcium ) that purchased mineral water does. Most people can compensate for these deficits with a healthy diet. However, for people with a special need (pregnant women, athletes, people with diseases such as  osteoporosis  or long-lasting diarrhea), it is better to cover the intake with suitable mineral water.

You should pay attention to this when drinking water

The following tips should be observed if you want to drink tap water (sparkling or not):

  • Do not use water that has been standing in the tap for a long time (in the morning, after work or after vacation). Harmful substances can be minimized by briefly draining the water.
  • Bottles in which you fill your water should be absolutely clean and hygienic.
  • Prefer glass bottles – they are easier to clean.
  • Consume your water as quickly as possible. For long-term storage, keep it in the refrigerator, which protects against the spread of germs.
  • If you use water for the production of baby/toddler food, make sure that the limit values ​​for critical substances are not exceeded in your tap water. When in doubt, use bottled water.

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