How safe is water fountain water?

As early as I could remember I can recall my father saying “Don’t drink that shit”. I am from Toms River New Jersey which is only a few miles from Ciba-Geigy chemical company who was caught storing over 100,00 barrels of chemical waste in the ground and polluted much of the drinking water in my town. Many people living in my area still say we have some of the worst drinking water in the country even though the chemical spill was in the 1980’s. Now that I am living in a different state I thought this would be an interesting topic to look into, looking at the water fountain water all around the country to see what we are really drinking.

Recently I received an email from Penn State Office of Physical Plant about unsafe amounts of lead in the drinking water here at Penn State. This gave me the idea for writing about this topic in order to inform myself as well as readers on whether fountain water is safe to drink.

Water fountains are more dangerous than many people believe. An associated press investigation found that schools throughout all 50 US states have water fountains that contain contaminants. Scientists and engineer at Virginia Tech made a very interesting statement about the water drinking industry in this article/study what he said changed the way I looked at drinking water. He said, ” If a landlord doesn’t tell his tenant about lead paint on the walls he could go to jail but schools have dangerous amounts of lead in their water and the kids drink it with no problems”. Some side affects of high levels of lead in drinking water are possible flu like symptoms and gastrointestinal disease.

According to an NBC article a physician and EPA advisory board member stated that 1 out of every 5 schools meaning k-12 in the United States violate the safe drinking water act. To me this seems like a very big issue that our government is giving absolutely no time or respect towards. Fountains were once considered a technological development now they seem to be considered more of a fault.


For these aforementioned reasons I would say that a rational student who goes to Penn State would definitely stop drinking fountain water and turn to a cleaner closer advised water source like water bottles or purified water filters. According to this article the EPA oversees all of the water being used in the bottled water industry and the FDA oversees all of the plastic bottles being used, therefor anyone who tries to make the argument that the plastic and water used in bottled water is not monitored and that its the same thing as fountain water is very incorrect. The healthier as well as safer way to consume your water is to stay away from fountains and tap water and drink bottled and purified H20.

Bottled Water Vs. Tap Water: Rethink What You Drink


2 thoughts on “How safe is water fountain water?

  1. Daniel J Lehecka

    The problem with your conclusion I can see is that it’s not very sustainable and responsible to constantly drink out of plastic bottles. That’s a massive amount of waste we’re producing and will negatively impact the planet. I personally carry around a reusable bottle with me that I fill at the water bottle stations around campus, and I’ve found that it’s personally fine tasting water. That said, I have filled it at the standard drinking fountains when there wasn’t a bottle station around and I can’t say that I’ve really noticed a major difference. I think it’s (unfortunatley) more of an issue in low income areas where the city can’t afford to replace the pipes that are feeding the system. This page from the PA government explains what you should do if you suspect their to be lead in your water system, so I think a smart student would flush their system for 15 seconds rather then completely switching to bottled water.

  2. Michael David Harding

    Awesome point of an article and a very troubling scenario all across the country. Of course, all of our attention was drawn to the horrible situation in Flint, Michigan in the spring. Children were drinking contaminated water due to the privatization of the drinking water. Then, as a Pennsylvania resident for my entire life i came across a story saying all across the state some conditions may be worse than Flint. The crumpling infrastructure of the country is adding to this condition, especially the conditions of the pipes that the water is running through. Also the fracking situation in Pennsylvania adds to the contamination of some water, talked about in this article.

Leave a Reply