A growing number of American hydration connoisseurs are turning off their taps and switching to unfiltered, untreated water from natural sources, shelling out up to $36.99 for a 2.5-gallon jug of the "raw" stuff. Raw water passes through no federal or municipal pipes, contains no additives (such as fluoride, a naturally occurring mineral typically added to tap water to fight tooth decay), and generally receives no filtration, ensuring every bottle remains as mineral-rich as Mother Nature intended. Unfortunately, Mother Nature sometimes intends to give you an unpleasant case of diarrhea, or worse, instead.
Even America's most pristine-looking springs can harbor natural contaminants that make drinking their waters a sickly mistake, says Vince Hill, chief of the Waterborne Disease Prevention Branch at the CDC. The U.S. public drinking water is among the safest in the world, thanks in part to a multistep purification process that includes filtration, sedimentation and disinfection. Cities and states have their own specific protocols for cleaning public drinking water depending on the source they draw from, Hill said, but all of them follow one set of strict EPA guidelines aimed at eradicating 90 well-known water contaminants.
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