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Is It Safe To Drink The Tap Water In Shanghai?

Is it safe to drink the tap water in Shanghai? Or will one sip turn you into the Toxic Avenger? Expats lend their thoughts.


"Been in Shanghai for a few years. Every day I drink water from the tap here. No ill-effects so far. Have a TDS meter because have a fish tank in my apartment.

The TDS of the tap water in Jing'an is around between 250 to 270ppm. According to the scale on the meter, that is 'marginally acceptable'. RO (Reverse Osmosis) water is very low end of spectrum, as is spring water, rain water etc. In fact you have to go500ppm before you exceed the the US EPA's maximum contamination level. I'm a new member so i can't post a link but bellow 300ppm is marginally acceptable.

But the Chinese tap water is not actually 'undrinkable'.

I think people just like to complain about everything in Shanghai. The air, the busy metro, the water, the housing prices, the 'regulations', etc etc. But the water, really is, drinkable from the tap. Fear not."


"Yes- indeed, good luck with that. I stayed at the Crowne Plaza in Beijing last week and it had a huge sign next to the tap water saying "DO NO CONSUME TAP WATER!". This is a five star hotel in the high tech ritzy area of town- what do you think it will be like in the slums?

At home I don't even brush my teeth with tap water. Every week I go through probably about two or three of the 4L Nestle waters. Even the bottled water I hear is somewhat unreliable (I've been told by Chinese and foreigners alike that the red Nongfu Water is bad). There are some places in Shanghai I hear that actually do have their own water treatment and sourcing that does make the water potable (drinkable is another story)... however these places are ultra expensive from my understanding.

While we are on the point of sanitation, you're also not supposed to flush toilet paper. I do all the time anyways- but it's a pretty disgusting thought that there is just a bucket full of human feces sitting beside each toilet. China needs to get their S!#T together as far as toilet infrastructure goes.

Again, I am not being pessimistic here, you just have to be realistic though. I wouldn't drink the water in India or Mexico and I rank China on the same level of food/water safety as those two. Even if you don't get immediately sick, chances are you will start to have really bad health effects down the line after years of constant exposure. It's so easy (and cheap) just to get bottled water- so why take the risk?"

Full thread below.

Check out the Shanghai Expat Forums for more info on coping in the 'Hai.