Can you drink tap water, or can it be harmful to your health?

Many are worried about drinking tap water because they do not consider it safe or pure enough. Whether this fear is justified, and what remedies are offered, is explained in detail in the following article.

Safety of the drinking water

Due to the strict quality controls and the high demands on our tap water through the Drinking Water Ordinance, the risk for health hazards is very low, even if a high volume of tap water is drunk every day.

Some dangers are nevertheless - at least theoretically - given.

Possible health hazards with drinking water

  • Infestation by unicellular organisms
  • Infestation by viruses and bacteria
  • Infestation by pollutants and heavy metals
  • Legionella risk
  • Danger of lead poisoning

Infestation by unicellular organisms

A risk of infection by unicellular organisms is unlikely in our latitudes. This risk mainly exists in countries with a tropical climate. There may be different protozoans, such as amoebae, which occur in large numbers but provide for serious diseases (amoebic dysentery).

In our water systems, however, amoebae also occur. They are resistant to chlorine, and thus resist the treatment and purification processes of the water. In some cases, they serve as a "taxi" for various types of bacteria, which can get so protected by the whole water system.

  • Infestation by viruses and bacteria

Even if the drinking water itself is clean, a so-called "biofilm" develops over time inside the water pipes. This slimy substance serves as a breeding ground for a wide variety of bacterial species.

Chlorination of drinking water is ineffective against the formation of this film, as the chlorine is bound organically by the biofilm, and thus is ineffective. Particularly dangerous are legionella.

  • Infestation by pollutants and heavy metals

Pesticides, medicines, hormones, softeners and various heavy metals can enter the groundwater. Wastewater treatment removes most of the harmful substances. But this does not always succeed completely.

  • Danger of lead poisoning

With old water pipes made of lead, the heavy metal can settle in the stagnant water. Drinking stale water from the line can potentially lead to lead poisoning for years to come.

Tips & Tricks

Water filters can be a high risk even if they are used improperly and thereby germinate.

Video Board: Is Tap Water Safe to Drink? - Sharp Science