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Seen At 11: Chemical Concerns Drive Bottled Water Sales, But Is It Safer Than Tap?

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- With fears about chemicals, contaminants, carcinogens, potentially coming out of our faucets it's no wonder the sale of bottled water is setting records.

But as CBS2's Maurice DuBois found, those bottles may not be any better than what's coming out of the tap.

As water travels to our homes it's disinfected and treated for purity, but the treatments can't filter every contaminant it may pick up along the way.

Contaminants like lead can leach from older pipelines and give tap water the bad rap it's come to know.

"I don't want to drink the tap water," Anne Arter said.

"I wouldn't trust it," Nick Aliano added.

As an alternative Americans spend nearly $12 billion a year on bottled water.

"It makes you feel better," Aliano said.

But is it really better for you?

Mike Jackson with Gold Medal Plumbing frequently tests water.

On Monday, he was analyzing three popular bottled brands.

"What we found was these had roughly an average TDS of 170 to 180," he said.

TDS, or total dissolved solids -- Jackson explained -- are things you don't want in your drinking water.

"You can drink a ton of water that has a high TDS, and you're still going to be thirsty. It doesn't do anything good for your body," Jackson said.

Too many total dissolved solids can actually make you sick, which is why the government regulates how much is allowed in tap water.

Experts said bottled water doesn't have the same strict requirements.

"We tried to find who regulates it on the federal level, and we couldn't even find the testing because it happens so frequently," Alex Beauchamp, Food and Water Watch, said.

That comes with a markup of about a thousand percent per bottle.

"It's a crazy racket really," Beauchamp said.

Water specialist Rob Zadotti recommended installing a home water filtration system.

He said it's the only way to really remove all of the unwanted contaminants.

"It tastes great," Arter said.

Arter, a realtor, said building wide filtration systems like the one at Port Washington's Knickerbocker Bay Club, are a big selling point.

"Anything and everything that uses water in this building, right down to the hose is filtered water," Sandy Grayson, The Quality Water Group, said.

Filtered much like Mother Nature would do, Grayson explained.

"Going through the rock, the soil, the silt," he said.

He and other believe it will bring trust back to the tap.

The American Beverage Association told CBS2 that millions of Americans are drinking more water thanks to the convenience of bottled water that must comply with strongest federal and state requirements.

The association told CBS2 bottled water typically goes through filtration processes such as distillation, deionization, and reverse osmosis.

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