Infographic: A Guide on Drinking Water Quality Around the World

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The following infographic outlines the quality of drinking water – that means tap and well water – around the world.

You might find this information useful if you are a passionate globetrotter and want to know where you can drink straight from the tap without thinking. Or like us, you simply find it interesting to learn in which parts of the world such a fundamental part of human existence as clean drinking water is still not self-evident (sadly).

After all, at least 2 billion people worldwide are using a drinking water source contaminated with feces; feces that cause diarrhea, cholera, polio and other diseases resulting in hundreds of thousands of deaths each year.

About the Data

We acquired the data for our infographic from 2 sources:

  1. The Report on Progress on household drinking water, sanitation and hygiene 2000-2017 published by the WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene (JMP). The JMP maintains an extensive global database on estimates of progress on drinking water, sanitation and hygiene since 1990.
  2. Recommendations of the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) to reduce one’s risk of travelers’ diarrhea and other diseases caused by unclean water. The CDC is one of the major operating components of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Its mission is to protect America from health, safety and security threats, both domestic and foreign.

Explanation: Contamination-Free

The infographic lists the population percentage with access to contamination-free water supplies for each country in the year 2017. In this case, contamination-free means “compliant with standards for faecal contamination (E. coli) and priority chemical contamination (arsenic and fluoride)”. This is simply the definition that the JMP has used in the WASH report.

Of course, there are many more potential water contaminants that might do you harm when ingested – so be aware!

Interestingly enough, there are discrepancies between the WASH report data and what the CDC recommends.

Because for some countries where 98–99+% of the population has access to contamination-free drinking water (according to the WASH report), the CDC does not deem the water safe and recommends sticking to bottled water.

Maybe this is because the CDC relies on data that is outdated or different. Or maybe they just take a more conservative approach? We don’t know.

When in Doubt Stick to Bottled Water or Use a Filter

What we know is that when you are in doubt about the quality of your drinking water, either stick to bottled water or use a filter if possible. The best way to get access to clean drinking water is through a reverse osmosis system. There are even portable RO systems, some suited for traveling.

If you know what impurities you are facing you might also try a filter straw or a small gravity water filter system. This guide focuses on portable water filters that remove bacteria, pathogens, and viruses.

Enough said, let’s get on with the infographic!

Source Links:

JMP report:

CDC recommendations:

Global Water 101 Infographic by BOS

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If you have any questions about our infographic please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below!

About the Author Gene Fitzgerald

Gene Fitzgerald has been with BOS since the very beginning. She is head of content creation and has fully immersed herself into the home water treatment industry only to become an expert herself. Outside of BOS, Gene loves reading books on philosophy & social issues, making music, and hiking.
Learn more about Gene and the rest of the BOS Team.


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