21 Cities Where Water Pollution Occurs the Most – High Risk Travel Alert!

Are you planning an upcoming trip?

If so, you’ve probably done everything you can think of to prepare. You’ve gathered all your necessary documents and you’ve packed all the clothes, accessories, and gadgets you think you might need during your travels. You’re positive you haven’t missed anything.

But have you stopped to think about the water quality in your destination city?

Unfortunately, there are a lot of cities around the world that face terrible problems with water pollution on a regular basis. Travelers to these cities may face water conditions so poor that they have to find alternate sources of drinking water and may need to stay far away from any recreational bodies of water, too.

So where does water pollution occur the most? That’s what this article is here to tell you!

In this article, you’ll be introduced to the 21 worst-polluted cities around the world. These are places where water pollution is a major cause for concern. If you happen to be traveling to one of these locations, it’s in your best interest to do some planning beforehand and figure out how you’re going to get around the problem of the water quality in the place you’ll be visiting.

Be sure to check out our helpful tips for how to prepare for travel to a place where water pollution is a major concern, too!

Read on to learn more about how to handle this situation and which cities to be on the lookout for during your travels.

Africa, Central and South America

1. Johannesburg, South Africa

johannesburg water pollution

http://oceanleadership.org/wp-content/uploads/Landfill.jpg

Where does water pollution occur in this city?

The places most affected by water pollution in the Johannesburg area are actually the small rural communities on the outskirts of town. These are the areas that rely on Vaal Dam for their drinking water.

What are the biggest causes of pollution here?

So you know where it happens, but where does water pollution come from in this city? Johannesburg and the surrounding towns are responsible for the wastewater that contaminates the dam. This is mostly untreated sewage that simply can’t be handled by the small amount of filtration available to the region.

What types of pollutants are the biggest concern here?

Bacterial and parasitic pollutants are some of the worst involved with this city’s pollution problem. However, pollutants from the nearby factories and mines also make their way into the dam’s water.

How widespread is this problem?

Over eight thousand people who live near the Vaal Dam suffer the immediate effects of this terrible pollution. However, the problem is becoming even more widespread as the water is being used to supply rural communities and cities all over the area.

What diseases can be caused by this pollution?

The biggest health risks associated with these types of pollution are brain damage and birth defects. The mining pollutants particularly can be incredibly harmful and cause irreversible damage in both adults and children. They also have carcinogenic effects.

The biggest health risks associated with these types of pollution are brain damage and birth defects. The mining pollutants particularly can be incredibly harmful and cause irreversible damage in both adults and children. They also have carcinogenic effects.

2. Algiers, Algeria

algiers water pollution

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/6/64/Mouton_buvant_au_milieu_des_poissons_morts.jpg/600px-Mouton_buvant_au_milieu_des_poissons_morts.jpg

Where does water pollution occur in this city?

All of Algeria suffers from water pollution issues, but where does water pollution happen in Algiers specifically? Much of this city has seen a great improvement in water quality conditions in recent years, but it still needs work. The areas surrounding the Oued Smar landfill are the worst affected.

What are the biggest causes of pollution here?

Drought and an overuse of the water supply have historically been the leading causes of water pollution in and around Algiers. This is a bit different from many of the other problems faced by African cities.

What types of pollutants are the biggest concern here?

Salinity is the leading pollutant that affects Algiers. This comes from a decreasing water supply as well as from regional drought.

How widespread is this problem?

There are three million people in Algiers, and 78% of these people have to deal with intermittent clean water service. Basically, this means they are never quite sure when their clean water will be cut off or how long it will be off.

What diseases can be caused by this pollution?

Salinity isn’t the type of pollution that causes a lot of widespread diseases, but it can lead to serious diarrhea that can cause dehydration and death in infants and the elderly. Salinity is very bad for the environment.

3. Harare, Zimbabwe

harare water pollution

http://www.whataboutpollution.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/Water_pollution_due_to_plastic.jpg

Where does water pollution occur in this city?

Throughout Zimbabwe, the rivers suffer significantly from the problem of water pollution. However, in Harare itself, Lake Chivero is the most polluted body of water.

What are the biggest causes of pollution here?

Industrial discharge is the leading cause of water pollution in and around Harare. There are many factories in this area, and they aren’t well regulated.

What types of pollutants are the biggest concern here?

Chemicals and bacteria are fairly tied for the areas of most concern. However, the amount of sewage disposed of daily in Harare leads to widespread illness and very serious health complications from bacteria.

How widespread is this problem?

Harare discharges 3,885 megaliters of sewage into the lake and its tributaries every day. This is a huge amount of sewage waste in comparison to the second biggest polluter in Zimbabwe: Bulawayo, which only discharges 13 megaliters per day.

What diseases can be caused by this pollution?

Typhoid, cholera, and hepatitis are some of the biggest potential diseases that can be caused by the sewage in Harare. Poisoning and cancer from the industrial waste also occur.

4. Port Au Prince, Haiti

haiti water pollution

https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-DrJ_xv64EGE/V73jp0upsaI/AAAAAAAAJ20/tR7uwpPtxP4bX0PAx10-U_CCsjnhJjoSACLcB/s1600/two%2Bbillion%2Btons%2Bwaste%2Bper%2Bday%2Binto%2Bthe%2Bwater.jpg

Where does water pollution occur in this city?

There is a lot of water pollution to be found throughout Haiti, but where is water pollution found in Port Au Prince?

What are the biggest causes of pollution here?

Natural disasters contribute the most to water pollution in Haiti. Coupled with being the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, these disasters leave the people of Haiti desperate for clean water more often than not.

What types of pollutants are the biggest concern here?

Bacterial pollutants are the biggest issues in Port Au Prince.

How widespread is this problem?

About 70% of the people living throughout Haiti don’t have access to regular, clean water. Since much of the population lives in Port Au Prince, this is a very widespread problem throughout the city.

What diseases can be caused by this pollution?

Typhoid, cholera, and hepatitis are very common illnesses transmitted through water in and around Port Au Prince.

5. Bogota, Colombia

colombia water pollution

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/fc/Waste01.jpg

Where does water pollution occur in this city?

Where is water pollution occurring in Bogota? Perhaps unsurprisingly, it’s taking place around the Bogota River and in its basin. This river is considered dead in many places.

What are the biggest causes of pollution here?

Industrial wastewater dumping is the number one leading cause of water pollution in Bogota. This waste is unregulated, which means it can be dumped in massive amounts with no retribution.

What types of pollutants are the biggest concern here?

Chemical pollutants do most of the damage in this area. Salinity is also somewhat of an issue, but it’s largely overshadowed by the problem of chemicals in the water.

How widespread is this problem?

Over 9 million people live in the area of the Bogota Basin, so it’s easy to see just how serious this problem has become.

What diseases can be caused by this pollution?

Cancer is the biggest concern from these types of pollutants. However, residents of the area may also see an increased amount of organ failure and damage as well as birth defects.

6. Mexico City, Mexico

mexico city water pollution

http://www.un.org/es/events/oceansday/images/oceans_2016.jpg

Where does water pollution occur in this city?

The whole city generally sees a similar pattern of water pollution, although some reports indicate that the southern part of the city, where there is more agriculture, may be a bit worse.

What are the biggest causes of pollution here?

The overuse of groundwater, natural drought, and the risk of flooding from natural disasters all work together to create a very serious problem with the water quality in Mexico City.

What types of pollutants are the biggest concern here?

Mexico City sees a little bit of everything in terms of pollutants. Chemicals from wastewater dumping, bacteria from floodwaters, and salinity from overused groundwater all can be found in water samples from this city.

How widespread is this problem?

There are 19 million people living in Greater Mexico City. 23% of the wells in the region don’t meet the national standards for bacteria presence.

What diseases can be caused by this pollution?

Dengue Fever is a common illness that many travelers and locals alike face when drinking the water in Mexico City. Malaria and E. coli poisoning may also be spread through the water, and general diarrhea is very common.

7. Tunis, Tunisia

water pollution in tunis

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/b/b9/Petitcodiac-water-pollution.jpg/220px-Petitcodiac-water-pollution.jpg

Where does water pollution occur in this city?

Most of the city is affected by this pollution. The Gulf of Gabes, on which the city is located, sees the vast majority of this pollution, and the Gulf suffers as much as the people do.

What are the biggest causes of pollution here?

Industrial effects from dumped wastewater and chemical byproducts are the leading causes of the water pollution in Tunis. This also affects the quality of the air in the city.

What types of pollutants are the biggest concern here?

Chemical pollutants used in industrial processes are the biggest culprits. These include carcinogenic chemicals as well as heavy metals like mercury and lead.

How widespread is this problem?

Each year, thirteen thousand tons of industrial waste is dumped into the Gulf of Gabes. This doesn’t even account for the amount of waste that contaminates the groundwater. This is a very widespread problem.

What diseases can be caused by this pollution?

Many of the chemical pollutants found in the water can and do cause cancer in residents of the city. These people may also fall ill from heavy metal poisoning or any of the most well-known waterborne illnesses.

United States Cities

8. Jacksonville, FL

jacksonville water pollution

http://www.enn.com/image_for_articles/41626-1.jpg/medium

Where does water pollution occur in this city?

Most of the pollution affects the freshwater sources and groundwater in the city. However, some of it affects the coastal communities that deal with marine pollution regularly.

What are the biggest causes of pollution here?

Cleaning chemicals found in the water supply build up over time and pollute Jacksonville’s water significantly.

What types of pollutants are the biggest concern here?

Chemicals such as trihalomethanes, which include chloroform.

How widespread is this problem?

23 different types of chemical pollutants have been found in recent tests of the water from Jacksonville. Although no one has died directly from this pollution, it continues to pose health risks.

What diseases can be caused by this pollution?

These chemicals are carcinogenic. They may also cause irreversible organ damage and brain damage if consumed at very high levels in the water.

9. Omaha, NE

omaha water pollution

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/0/09/Storm_Drain.JPG/1024px-Storm_Drain.JPG

Where does water pollution occur in this city?

There is not a lot of surface water present in Nebraska, and the state is pretty far from the oceans. However, its groundwater is polluted, and the nearby Platte River that supplies Omaha with surface water is also contaminated.

What are the biggest causes of pollution here?

Nebraska is an incredibly agricultural state, and fertilizer, pesticides, and herbicides are the leading causes of water pollution in Omaha as well as other Nebraska cities.

What types of pollutants are the biggest concern here?

Manganese, nitrates, and atrazine are the biggest water pollution concerns in Omaha.

How widespread is this problem?

Although it may sound a bit shocking, manganese was found at levels more than forty percent the legal amount in Omaha water samples. Atrazine and nitrates also surpass the legally safe amounts that can be present in water.

What diseases can be caused by this pollution?

Nitrates can cause blue baby syndrome, while manganese can cause heavy metal poisoning. Atrazine has been known to cause cancer.

10. Reno, NV

water pollution in reno

http://truckeeriverinfo.org/files/truckee/BlueGreen%20algae%20bloom%20on%20VirgLake.jpg

Where does water pollution occur in this city?

The Truckee River, a tributary of Lake Tahoe, contains the contamination and pollution that affects Reno.

What are the biggest causes of pollution here?

Dry cleaning wastewater and the agricultural use of pesticides and fertilizer are the leading causes of water pollution in the Reno area.

What types of pollutants are the biggest concern here?

Tetrachloroethylene, a solvent as well as a dry cleaning solution, can be found in many of the water samples in Reno. Manganese and arsenic are also present in the water supply.

How widespread is this problem?

21 types of chemical contaminants were found in Reno’s water, with eight of these coming in at levels over the EPA’s guidelines.

What diseases can be caused by this pollution?

Tetrachloroethylene is a known human carcinogenic. Manganese can be poisonous to humans, and it can also seriously affect the environment and lead to widespread fish death. Arsenic can poison humans and lead to death in some cases.

11. Houston, TX

Houston water pollution

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/d8/Galveston_Bay.jpg

Where does water pollution occur in this city?

Lake Houston is quite polluted, while the nearby Trinity River and San Jacinto River have a lot of contaminants as well.

What are the biggest causes of pollution here?

Nuclear power plants and factories contribute the most to water pollution in and around Houston.

What types of pollutants are the biggest concern here?

Haloacetic acids are a type of pollutant caused by disinfectants. Alpha particles, which are caused by radioactive waste, are also present in illegal levels in Houston’s water.

How widespread is this problem?

18 chemicals were found in Houston water supplies between 2004 and 2007 that exceeded the legally safe amounts for the state. 46 total pollutants were found in the water.

What diseases can be caused by this pollution?

Haloacetic acids can cause skin and eye irritation, rashes, and sore throat. They may increase the risk of cancer when consumed often over time. Alpha particles are known to cause cancer—particularly bone cancer—and birth defects.

12. Riverside, CA

riverside, ca water pollution

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-pIKsGp24zzk/T44FLFjctpI/AAAAAAAAABY/CdeOGbcWofQ/s1600/download.png

Where does water pollution occur in this city?

The groundwater in and around Riverside is the biggest area of concern for this city.

What are the biggest causes of pollution here?

Power plants in and around the city as well as industrial dumping and toxic runoff all contribute to Riverside’s water pollution.

What types of pollutants are the biggest concern here?

Bromoform, uranium, and alpha particles are all present in the water found in and around Riverside. These have been showing up in water samples from this city since 2004.

How widespread is this problem?

15 chemicals exceeding the EPA’s guidelines were found in the water samples from this part of California. Riverside has a population of three hundred thousand, so there are a lot of people affected by this pollution even though this is a smaller city than some of the others listed here.

What diseases can be caused by this pollution?

Bromoform is a chemical that causes potential damage to the kidneys, liver, or brain. Alpha particles and uranium are both radioactive substances that can cause severe types of cancer and birth defects.

13. Las Vegas, NV

las vegas water pollution

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/2a/2015-11-03_11_08_37_View_south_across_Las_Vegas_Bay_on_Lake_Mead%2C_Nevada_from_an_airplane.jpg

Where does water pollution occur in this city?

The nearby Colorado River is slightly polluted, while the groundwater in and around Las Vegas has a concerning amount of contamination to worry about.

What are the biggest causes of pollution here?

Chemical presence in the groundwater is the biggest cause of Las Vegas pollution. However, radiation pollution is also present, which is a much bigger concern in the long run.

What types of pollutants are the biggest concern here?

The chemicals present in the water include those that can be found in cleaning supplies as well as in pesticides. The radioactive substance most commonly found in Las Vegas’s water is uranium.

How widespread is this problem?

While the national average of contaminants found in a given water supply is eight, Las Vegas came in at 26 in a recent study.

What diseases can be caused by this pollution?

Pesticide and cleaning chemical pollution can cause cancer as well as respiratory and digestive illness and upset. Uranium, if present in high levels, can lead to cancer, birth defects, rashes, and bone issues.

14. Pensacola, FL

pensacola water pollution

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/c/c9/Deepwater_horizon_beach_cleanup.png/350px-Deepwater_horizon_beach_cleanup.png

Where does water pollution occur in this city?

Between the groundwater, surface water, and water from the Gulf of Mexico in and around Pensacola, this city contains the most polluted water in the United States.

What are the biggest causes of pollution here?

Factory wastewater and runoff, agricultural runoff from nearby farms, and leaking chemical storage containers all contribute to the water problem in Pensacola. When including marine water, oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico can also be counted.

What types of pollutants are the biggest concern here?

Benzene, lead, tetrachloroethylene, trichloroethylene, alpha particles and radium were all found in water samples taken from Pensacola. These samples also contained chloroform and cyanide in dangerous levels.

How widespread is this problem?

45 dangerous pollutants were found in Pensacola’s water over five years. A massive 21 of these were found in levels that are considered dangerous by the EPA’s standards

What diseases can be caused by this pollution?

Most of the types of pollution found in Pensacola are radioactive and can lead to severe birth defects, organ failure, and terrible forms of cancer. The chemical pollutants present can also cause cancer.

Asia and the Middle East

15. Ulan Baatar, Mongolia

mongolia water pollution

http://images.nationalgeographic.com/wpf/media-live/photos/000/131/cache/conflict03-pollution-china_13151_600x450.jpg

Where does water pollution occur in this city?

This is considered one of the most polluted cities overall in the world, including air pollution. The whole city faces terrible pollution issues.

What are the biggest causes of pollution here?

Mining is the biggest cause of water pollution in this city, but an overuse of the water supplies is not close behind.

What types of pollutants are the biggest concern here?

Mercury is the biggest pollution concern in Ulan Baatar. Salinity is also a cause for concern, but not nearly as seriously as is mercury.

How widespread is this problem?

Over one million people live in this capital city. There are 133 wells in Ulan Baatar, all of which draw water from the groundwater sources below the city.

What diseases can be caused by this pollution?

Residents of the area have been prone to develop mercury poisoning from drinking water laced with high mercury levels from the surrounding gold mines.

16. Vientiane, Laos

laos water contamination

https://cdn.pixabay.com/photo/2015/03/20/03/29/boat-681718_960_720.jpg

Where does water pollution occur in this city?

The whole city is affected, but areas near the river are slightly more.

What are the biggest causes of pollution here?

The types of water pollution faced by the people of Vientiane can almost all be traced back to agricultural sources. Most of the farms in question are upstream from the city, so the city, in turn, feels the effects very strongly.

What types of pollutants are the biggest concern here?

The most common pollutant in Vientiane water supplies is pesticide. The harsh chemicals that are used to create pesticides can do a lot of damage to people as well as to the environment.

How widespread is this problem?

The percent of the water that has been polluted in Vientiane is just over 72%, which is considered quite high in comparison to other cities.

What diseases can be caused by this pollution?

Drinking water contaminated with pesticides can cause cancer, organ failure, seizures, neurological problems, and even death.

17. Dhaka, Bangladesh

bangladesh water contamination

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/e/e3/Dhaka_-_boats_on_Buriganga_River.JPG/640px-Dhaka_-_boats_on_Buriganga_River.JPG

Where does water pollution occur in this city?

Most of the pollution is concentrated in and around the Buriganga River. Since most of the country relies on this river and its tributaries, it’s no surprise that this pollution causes a whole lot of damage.

What are the biggest causes of pollution here?

Household and sewage waste, industrial dumping, natural disasters, and oil spills all contribute to the incredibly severe pollution in this river.

What types of pollutants are the biggest concern here?

Chemicals, bacteria, gas, nitrates, and oil are all present in the water found in Dhaka’s Buriganga River.

How widespread is this problem?

There are over 4 million people living in this city. Every day, over four thousand tons of combined waste are dumped into the river. This pollution affects the city very significantly.

What diseases can be caused by this pollution?

Typhoid and cholera are fairly common among residents of this city, as are cancers and organ diseases. However, travelers to the area should expect to have diarrhea if nothing else when drinking this water. Be cautious of parasites.

18. Jakarta, Indonesia

jakarta water contamination

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/1/1d/Ciliwung_100303-0435_jkt.jpg/640px-Ciliwung_100303-0435_jkt.jpg

Where does water pollution occur in this city?

The pollution begins with the Citarum River and spreads out from there. This is considered the most heavily polluted river in the world. It’s impossible to move through the water without meeting resistance from the piles of garbage floating in it.

What are the biggest causes of pollution here?

Textile manufacturing plants lead the many factories that pollute this river. Auto manufacturing plants and chemical production factories also contribute to the mess of pollution in Jakarta. Open defecation is also practiced in this city.

What types of pollutants are the biggest concern here?

Asbestos is very present in the water supply, as are mercury, arsenic, and lead. Bacteria, parasites, and viruses are spread through water contaminated by open defecation.

How widespread is this problem?

Because of open defecation, around 90% of the groundwater in Jakarta is polluted with E. coli bacteria. Three percent of child deaths annually occur from pollution in this river.

What diseases can be caused by this pollution?

E. coli infection is the leading cause of death in residents of Jakarta. However, they also suffer from Dengue fever, malaria, and most other waterborne illnesses.

19. Manila, Philippines

manila water pollution

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/92/Manila_Bay_Pasig_and_Pampanga_River_Basins_pollution_2008.jpg

Where does water pollution occur in this city?

The Marilao River is the most polluted body of fresh water in the Manila area. Manila Bay is a very seriously polluted as well, although this is a saltwater body.

What are the biggest causes of pollution here?

Agricultural dumping, industrial dumping, and household garbage and waste are the leading sources of pollution in the Marilao River. Oil spills can be added to this list when discussing Manila Bay.

What types of pollutants are the biggest concern here?

Untreated sewage contains bacteria and parasites. Industrial dumping introduces cyanide, chromium, lead, cadmium, and mercury into the water supply.

How widespread is this problem?

50% of the rivers in the Philippines are considered biologically dead, and unfortunately, the Marilao River is one of them. Only 28% of the water available to the people of Manila is safe to drink.

What diseases can be caused by this pollution?

Typhoid and hepatitis are the most common waterborne illnesses that afflict the people of Manila. Poisoning from the heavy metals present in the water is also quite prevalent.

20. Kabul, Afghanistan

afghanistan water pollution

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Afghanistan_-_Mazaar_-_tube_well.JPG

Where does water pollution occur in this city?

As in most cities where water pollution is prevalent, the highest amount of pollution is concentrated around the local river—in this case, the Paghman.

What are the biggest causes of pollution here?

Open defecation is one of the biggest problems that leads to water pollution in Kabul. Leaky septic systems also cause human waste to pollute the groundwater even when there is plumbing in place. Politics have something to do with this pollution too since upstream locations can control the water that downstream places receive.

What types of pollutants are the biggest concern here?

Bacterial and parasitic pollutants cause the most trouble in Kabul.

How widespread is this problem?

Kabul’s water pollution percentage comes in at a whopping 85%, which is incredibly high. Of the water used for drinking, 81% is still polluted. Only 18% of the people in the city have regular access to clean drinking water.

What diseases can be caused by this pollution?

Typhoid and hepatitis are the most common waterborne illnesses that afflict the people of Kabul. Poisoning from the heavy metals present in the water is also quite prevalent.

new delhi water contamination

https:[email protected]/5555077409

21. New Delhi

Where does water pollution occur in this city?

Areas surrounding the Yamuna River are the most seriously affected. This is one of the most polluted bodies of fresh water in the world.

What are the biggest causes of pollution here?

Drought leads to much of the water pollution faced by New Delhi. However, open defecation, a lack of sanitation and water treatment, and domestic sewage from the few places that have dedicated sewers all contribute to this city’s pollution problem.

What types of pollutants are the biggest concern here?

Bacteria is the leading type of pollutant found in the water in and around New Delhi. Solid sedimentary pollutants are also present.

How widespread is this problem?

In 2012, a study showed that every 100cc of water from New Delhi’s Yamuna River contained over 7500 coliform bacteria. These bacteria are present in very unsanitary conditions.

What diseases can be caused by this pollution?

Diarrhea is the most common result of drinking this water. Typhoid and cholera are also very common in New Delhi, especially in children. Parasitic infections with cryptosporidium and giardiasis also occur.

Tips to Ensure Clean, Safe Drinking Water While Traveling

No matter where you might be traveling, there are a few great tips you can keep in mind to help make your trip that much safer. Check out this list of the top 10 best ways to prevent exposure to polluted drinking water while you’re traveling.

  • Be careful about the bottled water you use. While you might think all bottled water is safe, the truth is that some of it is just as dangerous as contaminated tap water. Always use bottled water that has been sealed before it ever reaches you. If it’s been opened, it may be polluted. If you’re unsure, ask some locals which types of bottled water they recommend the most.
  • Drink boiled water when possible. Boiling isn’t going to remove all pollutants, but it’s a great start. Many bacteria and parasites, for example, can’t survive the boiling process. You might also be able to boil away solid sediments that could be present in your water supply.
  • Choose tea, soda, coffee, or alcoholic beverages instead of water in situations when you’re unsure of the quality. Although these might not be the healthier options in most situations, when you run the risk of becoming sick from polluted water, you might just want to take your chances with sugary sodas instead.
  • Only use ice made from safe, boiled water. Freezing doesn’t kill bacteria. Many times, travelers to other countries forget about the potential for ice to be polluted too, and this is often how people become sick even when they think they’re taking all the necessary precautions against polluted water. If all else fails, leave ice out of your drinks altogether.
  • Use safe bottled or purified water for everything, including cleaning contact lenses, brushing your teeth, and washing your hands. Many travelers have forgotten about using clean water for brushing their teeth or washing their contacts, and in some rare cases, people have even been infected with parasites that make their way through the eyes after polluted contacts have been used.
  • Try to stay away from eating salads and fresh fruit that might have been washed in contaminated water. If you’re sure clean water has been used to wash these items, then by all means, eat them! However, if there’s even a hint of uncertainty, it’s best to just pass on these foods and go for something that has been well-cooked to destroy any bacteria present.
  • Consider treating water with iodine or chlorine tablets, but take precautions. These have long been the go-to option for people traveling to very polluted countries and cities, but in more recent years it has been discovered that they can cause potential health problems. Especially if you are pregnant or nursing, stay away from iodine as much as possible. Some people with a shellfish allergy may also have an adverse reaction to iodine treated water.
  • Bring along a portable water filter. More and more companies are offering portable water filters, including those that can fit in a pocket or backpack easily. Be sure to do some research to choose the best quality option that can filter out the highest number of particles. Some cheaper models don’t do anything more than simply boiling the water could do.
  • If you’ll be staying for a long time, you might be able to install a more permanent water filter. For example, if you’ll be renting a place with a dedicated tap, you can always look into installing an under the sink water filter for the time while you’ll be there. These can provide clean, fresh water from your tap in one sink.
  • If all else fails and you can’t avoid drinking the water, be sure to start with small amounts of it to let your body adjust to potential contaminants. When you’ll be traveling for months at a time, it might not be reasonable for you to consider avoiding the local water the whole time. If the locals don’t seem to be getting too sick and there haven’t been any outbreaks, you might want to just take your chances. Just remember that you should always start very slowly in case you react badly to the water.

Conclusion

Now that you’ve read through this article, you might be second guessing your travel plans. Don’t worry! As long as you’re well aware of the potential threat in any place you plan to visit, you should be fine. Remember to keep our tips in mind to help make your traveling go a little more smoothly and reduce your risk of exposure to polluted water, too.

These 21 cities are by no means an exhaustive list of places to be on the lookout for, and no matter where you plan to travel, it’s always a good idea to do some research beforehand and see how the water is where you’re going. If you’re traveling within the United States, you can usually find out this information from the EPA or from the National Parks Service, depending on the type of place you’ll be visiting. However, traveling outside the country may make it a little more difficult to locate this type of information. If you can’t find out easily, try asking other travelers who have been to the area recently. They should be able to tell you if they’ve encountered any trouble.

It never pays to mess around when it comes to water safety. The more vigilant you are, the safer you’re sure to be. If you’ll be traveling with other people, such as friends or family, your caution could go a long way toward helping keep them safe, too. Be sure to do plenty of research before you travel and always be aware!

BONUS VIDEO!