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Can you safely drink tap water anywhere in Europe?


In the Netherlands we are used to being able to drink from the tap everywhere, but tap water can be unsafe or not taste so good abroad. In which countries can you and where should you not drink water from the tap?

In the Netherlands we are used to being able to drink from the tap everywhere, but tap water can be unsafe or not taste so good abroad. In which countries can you and where should you not drink water from the tap?

According to Jan Peter van der Hoek, professor of drinking water supply at TU Delft and director of innovation at the Amsterdam water company Waternet, drinking water from the tap is safe throughout Europe. "The insecurity of twenty years ago is no longer there."

According to the Water in the Abroad website, an initiative of drinking water company Vitens, the chance of getting sick from drinking tap water in European cities is indeed very small. According to the website, potential risks can arise with small water catchments where the pipeline network is less well maintained.

That is why it is not clean in some places. There is also not always enough pressure on the net. This causes the water to stop and bacteria can enter the pipe network.

Drinking water with a chlorine taste

To kill bacteria, the water in some countries is cleaned with chlorine, says Van der Hoek. According to the Vitens site you can get stomach and intestinal problems as a result. The professor believes that this chance is very small, because European tap water must meet European standards.

Van der Hoek: "This is strongly controlled. In addition, chlorine ensures that the harmful bacteria that cause intestinal complaints are killed. Chlorine itself does not cause intestinal complaints."

"Add a few drops of lemon juice to your water and the chlorine taste will disappear." Evy Elschot

According to him, the stuff does provide a chlorine taste. This is the case, for example, in many southern European countries. In Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece and France, therefore, residents often purchase bottled water.

According to Water Abroad, you can easily solve that chlorine taste and odor. You do this by adding a few drops of lemon juice to your water. Then all the signs of chlorine disappear.


  • In England the water can look cloudy, but that is due to excess air. That will disappear automatically after a few minutes.
  • The water in Ireland is of such high quality that the Guinness Brewery uses it to brew beer.
  • According to some studies, tap water in Finland is purer than bottled mineral water.
  • Source: Water Abroad

The water in North America is safe, but not in Asia, Africa and South America

Chlorine is also added to the water in the United States and Canada, says the professor. "In America you often get water with your food, but that doesn't taste good at all. Even the coke is made from chlorinated water there."

If Americans come here and then do not taste chlorine in the water, they are often shocked, according to Van der Hoek. Then they think it's not right. "I don't know if they are sandwich monkey stories, but I've heard that hotels deliberately add chlorine to their water to prevent this."

According to Van der Hoek, it is less sensible to drink tap water in South America, Asia and Africa. "There is no money and insufficient knowledge for a good water supply. Producing safe drinking water is very difficult."

Tips for unsafe drinking water

  • Boil, filter or disinfect unsafe tap water before use.
  • Always check that the cap of a water bottle has not been opened before.
  • Only drink soft drinks from bottles.
  • Do not use ice cubes.
  • Avoid vegetables and fruit that has been washed in uncooked water.
  • Also use only boiled water or bottled water for brushing your teeth and cleaning lenses.
  • Source: Water Abroad

Stomach flu from unsafe water will pass automatically

This advice does not apply to all countries in the areas. "In Singapore and Chinese cities, for example, tap water is often good, but in general it is better to buy bottled water to be on the safe side."

If it happens that you get unsafe drinking water, for example by brushing your teeth with it or by drinking ice cubes in you, you may have stomach and intestinal problems. Van der Hoek: "Usually it is harmless and you get stomach flu for a few days. That will go away again. If it continues then it is a more serious infection and you should consult a doctor."

Source: nunl

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