In Finland tap water has been found to be significantly cleaner than bottled water. Recent research by the National Public Health Institute (KTL) has shown that bottled water may have up to 100 times more microbes than tap water, while automatic water dispensers may contain a whopping 1,000 times more bacterial content than water from the kitchen tap.
According to the experts, water cannot be considered to be of good quality if it has a high microbial content. At the same time, a high microbe count does not necessarily constitute a public health risk.
The quality of bottled water declines the longer it sits on the shelf. Bottled water is usually ground water, which always contains some microbes that exist in the soil - these micro-organisms then have an opportunity to multiply during the storage period. Previous tests have shown that microbes can multiply considerably in as little as a week, when bottles are stored at room temperature.
However the Institute has declared that bottled water should be used in special circumstances. These include situations in which the water supply is seriously contaminated. It's also recommended to sip from the bottle rather than the tap in countries without a safe drinking water supply.
Last year the National Public Health Institute tested water quality in bottled water and water dispensers in different parts of the country. Samples were tested from 100 water dispensers and 155 different bottles of water and focused only on non-carbonated water.