People often take their drinking water for granted. In most western countries we don’t think twice before grabbing a glass and sticking it underneath a tap. But when you’re traveling the tap water may not be safe to drink.
You need drinking water no matter where you go, but with travellers diarrhea, giardia, hepatitis A, typhoid and cholera among the illnesses that can be transmitted with bad water, it pays to know which parts of the world guarantee clean, safe tap water, and where you should be sourcing bottled water instead.
The water you need to be most concerned about is water that might contain microorganisms that will make you sick, and in less developed countries, you are more apt to run into water that contains a variety of microorganisms you want to avoid. Which countries have unsafe drinking water?
But according to the CDC (United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), you may be drinking bottled water more often than you think.
A Travelers Guide to Tap Water
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Using information gathered from the CDC to highlight which destinations guarantee clean, safe, drinking water, the following guide is handy for identifying where drinking from the tap is OK, and where you’re better off doing further research on the subject. Is it safe to drink the tap water in
You need to keep in mind that this is a very conservative guide, and that “potentially unsafe” means that it could be harmful to drink if your body isn’t used to the water in the area, not necessarily that the water is polluted and dirty.
“Unsafe” doesn’t mean “drink this water and you’ll die”, just that you should be cautious when you’re traveling there. The drinking water in Mexico, for instance, may have absolutely no effect on the locals living there who have adapted to its impurities, however visitors will have not built up a tolerance to it as locals have. It’s therefore not really safe to take a sip.
On the flip side, North America is listed in this infographic as one of the very rare countries where drinking water is safe. However some regions of the United States have terrible drinking water, and travelers may not be accustomed to the high levels of chlorine in parts where it is considered safe.
Since publication, this infographic has sparked controversy and debate as to the accuracy of the information. So I once again reiterate, that this is a very conservative guide, based off the standards of the CDC, which means you should be cautious about drinking the local water in these countries if you’re not accustomed to their level of filtration.
The main message that should be taken away from this post is that water, anywhere in the world, can be unsafe if you’re visiting and you’re not used to the levels of impurities and / or filtration.