To drink or not to drink?
Last week, Water, Land and Natural Resources Minister Dr Xavier Jayakumar created quite a stir when he told the Parliament that it is safe
to drink water directly from the tap.
According to Dr Xavier, there are "no problems" if Malaysians decide to drink from the tap as it is "100 per cent safe".
Naturally, netizens were sceptical of Dr Xavier's statement, because, come on, we've personally seen water coming out from our taps brown and dirty.
So, is it really safe for you to take a sip straight from the tap?
Not exactly, according to Deputy Health Minister Dr Lee Boon Chye.
Dr Lee advised Malaysians to boil the water first before consuming, because other factors could contaminate the water supply before it even reaches your taps.
He told The New Straits Times
that while the water processed at water treatment plants "can be consumed directly as it meets the standards set", it has to travel through kilometers of pipes to your taps.
Some of these pipes, according to Dr Lee, could be old and rusty. Therefore, the water could be contaminated with bacteria and rust by the time it reaches your home.
Hence, Dr Lee advised Malaysians against drinking straight from the tap, but instead, boil the water first before consuming.
What happens if you consume contaminated water?
You could die!
OK, we're being extra dramatic, but in serious cases, drinking contaminated water will make you seriously ill...and then die!
According to a research by the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service, there are four major types of contaminants that can enter the water supply: microbial pathogens (salmonella and E. coli)
, inorganic compounds (lead and arsenic)
, organic compounds (pesticide)
and radioactive elements (radon)
Depending on which contaminant you're exposed to, the symptoms won't appear immediately.
When you're exposed to microbes such as salmonella or E. Coli, you will likely get these symptoms:
- Gastrointestinal Problems
- Intestinal or Stomach Cramping
Even if these symptoms don't exist, it doesn't mean you're safe though.
In fact, if your water supply is contaminated with chemicals like pesticide or lead, it is very likely that you would not notice immediate health effects but trust us, it can be really dangerous in the long run.
Long term exposure to chemicals like lead or arsenic could lead to very serious health complications such as cancer, lung disease and typhoid.
So, how do I make sure my water is safe to drink?
Simple: boil it first.
When you boil the water first, it will kill almost 99 per cent of the bacteria found in the water.
As much as you want to trust your politicians, we strongly suggest that you don't drink water straight from the tap. You'll never know where it's been.