Travel Health and Fitness - Tap water and ice in South America
May 13, 12, 7:06 pm
Why is it advised in some countries in South America, such as Perú or Bolivia to avoid tap water and ice to drink? Is there a problem with the water filtration system and what are the dangers of drinking tap water and ice there? I have also heard about not drinking tap water in the Philippines, Bangladesh, etc., but is this the same problem as in countries in South America? In developed countries the only tap water problem I have heard is the mineralisation may cause upset stomach, but not tap water other problems.
Water systems receive untreated water from whatever souce avaiable and proceed to prepare it for human consumption. This generally involves filtering to remove solids present in the water (usually by decantation) and some anti-bacterial treatment (usually by addition of chlorine). After that, water must be carried until it reaches the tap.
Some problems that could affect the potability of such waters are:
1. Water that is particularly polluted at the origin - too much sediment, too much metals, too much organic matter, etc . . .
2. Water that is not correctly treated - application of less chlorine than indicated for budgetary reasons (or even not chlorination)
3. Tubulation that distributes the water (carries the water from treatment station to point of consumption) is too old (oxidation) or has infiltration from the sewage system, etc . . .
As you can see, not all water is fit to drink. But it must be evaluated from city to city, sometimes from neighborhood to neighborhood.
And this has nothing to do with mineralization or the taste of water.
May 13, 12, 10:01 pm
Yup you should err on the side of caution. Different municipalities have different standards of care for the treatment of their water (even within the same nation). As budgets and standards are potentially of lower quality in less prosperous nations... I try to play it safe.
After a recent trip to Nepal I would not consider drinking anything that has not been boiled or that comes in a sealed bottle or can .
I can assure you getting the chronic ....s is not fun ......