‘Raw Water’ Is a New Health Trend. But Is It Safe?
A New York Times story in December introduced a new health buzzword to the masses: raw water, or water that hasn’t been treated, filtered or processed in any way.
While the beverage isn’t widespread yet, a number of untreated water startups have cropped up in states ranging from California to Maine, according to the Times.
But is the stuff even safe?
“It was truly instrumental in improving public health in the United States,” Schwab says.
“Having a central treatment process of our drinking water and then distributing it out to the individual homes and businesses is a tremendous asset that we, as a country, take for granted.” Drinking untreated water, and the pathogens that can lurk within it, could expose Americans to disease outbreaks once again, says Vince Hill, chief of the CDC’s Waterborne Disease Prevention Branch.
And while community tap water is treated to remove 91 different contaminants, there’s little data showing what’s in raw water.
As for concerns about fluoride — a chemical added to community water supplies to help prevent tooth decay — Vincent Casey, a senior water sanitation and hygiene manager at clean water nonprofit WaterAid, says it’s not harmful at the levels found in drinking water, even though it is hazardous at high concentrations.
(Due to its potential health consequences, some vocal opponents have called for an end to water fluoridation.)
“If you’ve got the luxury of a treated, piped water supply to your home available, it’s not really a good idea to drink untreated water,” he says.
“There are obviously many people in the world who don’t have that luxury.”