A Snapshot Of The Tap Water In China

June 8, 2018

When you and your family moved to China for the very first time, what was the first thing you would consider to be affecting your life quality here? The answers might vary, but one thing will gradually stand out and become a common concern – water safety!


When trying to adapt yourself to this new environment, you may find a series of problems with the water uses. Hair starts falling, skin becomes rough and itching, sediments are found in your water boiler, and the color of your clothes is fading. When you turn on the tap, the water sends off a pungent smell, and the food cooked here is not as tasty as it was in your home country though you use exactly the same recipe. After a while, you find that water is the chief culprit of all problems! And then, lots of questions on water quality and safety come to mind. To answer those, let’s acquire the knowledge on the situation of tap water in China first.



The water source in China is mostly depending on rivers, lakes and underground water. Among all, a large population relies on the water flowing from large rivers such as Yangtze River. However, many water sources are nowadays polluted by factory emissions, agricultural effluents and domestic sewage from the residence alongside the rivers. When water runs on the Earth surface, it picks up lots of stuff and is laden with more than 2,000 types of known and unknown pollutants, including:

  • General sediment and rust

  • Bacteria and viruses

  • Chlorine

  • Nitrites and nitrates (pesticides, herbicides)

  • Heavy metals (Lead, Mercury, Aluminum, Cadmium, Chromium, Copper)

The pollution in upstream could pile up in the downstream, such as Shanghai that is one of the 13 major cities affected by severe pollution, and pose devastating problems to the population there.



It is good that many cities like Shanghai have a municipal water system which makes sure that the water is fully treated and disinfected before it is delivered to individual residence. However, there are still some unethical water factories that do not do their job properly in less developed regions. Moreover, being a country with large population, China adds more chlorine into water than other countries to control the microorganism level and prevent the transmission of water-borne diseases. On the other hand, the bad news is that excessive free chlorine in tap water affects the PH balance of our skin and leads to dryness and irritation. Also, when taking a hot shower, chlorine could be inhaled and absorbed by our skin, getting into our body and bloodstream and causing asthma and even cancer.


Even if the water is considered safe when it is delivered from a water factory, it still cannot be assured that the water is still safe when it reaches the taps in your home, for problems could be raised from the water pipes that are used to transport water – some pipes are too old and contain lots of rotten matters inside, and some are made with cautious materials and substandard. Also, under the condition that secondary water supply is usually required in tall buildings, a water tank is built on the top to store water, but many tanks are lack of proper maintenance and so cause secondary pollution to the water. 



In addition, as the water source is mainly surface water, it contains lots of met  al ions such as calcium and magnesium ions that increase the hardness of water, which is a common problem of the tap water in northern part of China like Beijing.The heavy metals in tap water, if not properly removed, could enter our body along with the drinking water and our food, accumulate inside our body and trigger lethal health problems.


Under this circumstance, what solutions and options do we have to protect ourselves and our family from being affected by the quality-questionable tap water? Find more on our website!

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