Tap water should not be consumed directly in China! It is highly recommended, therefore, to install a water filtration system in both your home and office.
Choosing the best drinking water filter depends on the properties of the tap water you are using. To choose an appropriate China water filter, therefore, you should first have an understanding of China tap water quality issues.
In the article below author Jon Newton lends his vast experience in the China drinking water filtration sector to inform us about China tap water quality issues, various water filtration technologies on the market and his recommendation for the best drinking water filter technology for China.
We have a list of suppliers of drinking water filters in China at the end of this article.
As China continues on its economic growth and industrialisation path, the environmental costs are becoming more noticeable and concerning.
Anyone living in Northern China will lament, particularly during the winter, at how the low hanging haze is reminiscent of a scene from the Blade Runner movie.
Poor air quality coupled with its health effects (the true effects are likely to only be seen and felt years after exposure) have been in the media spotlight in recent times.
It naturally generates this publicity and concern given that it blatantly hangs over the city skyline, noticeable as we draw back the blinds every morning, hurriedly bundle the kids off to school and head home after work.
But as worrisome as the country’s smoggy cityscapes might be, water pollution in China should be just as, if not more, troubling.
The truth is that while the quality of our air is obvious to the naked eye, we rarely know or see what’s in our tap water in China, and this makes it all the more dangerous.
I highly recommend, therefore, everyone to install the best drinking water filter in their homes and offices in China as soon as possible.
China is vast. China is complicated. China continues to grow. It will, therefore, take considerable time and resources to reverse air and water pollution here.
Examples of how these challenges manifest themselves in our tap water are found in two recent reports from the China Daily.
A November 18th, 2016 article reported on improvements made in nearly 2,000 monitored surface water areas across China over the first nine months of the year.
However, only three weeks prior to that, the same paper reported that traces of the carcinogen NDMA were detected in over 44 Chinese cities’ source and tap water in the last quarter of 2016.
China’s environmental ministry reported as recently as 2015 that 61.5% of the country’s underground water and one third of its surface water sources are unfit for human contact, ominously signalling more than a 2% increase on its 2013 released figures.
Tests carried out by our company on tap water in offices and typical apartments rented by expats in China show excessive levels of harmful heavy metals, chemicals and bacteria that literally makes the water undrinkable and in many cases even hazardous to shower or bathe in.
Expats and corporates are now taking steps to protect themselves by searching for the best drinking water filters.
One of the biggest challenges, however, is that the many solutions available to us on the market that can ensure all common China tap water contaminants are removed are either very expensive or very inconvenient to integrate into our lives.
But it does not need to be this way.
On many occasions, I have been asked why we recommend reverse osmosis (RO) as the best drinking water filter technology for China. The reason is simply that it’s the strongest, most affordable and effective filtration solution available to us as consumers.
The chart below portrays the effectiveness of various filtration technologies in removing different categories of pollutants in water. Only reverse osmosis has the ability to remove all categories of pollutants and micro-contaminants, many of which can be found in China tap water.
Reading the above diagram from right to left, one can see the effectiveness of the following drinking water filtration technologies:
Commonly referred to as carbon filtration, particle filtration has been very successful in areas with a clean water source as it removes large (less harmful) solids like hair, plant spores and beach sand.
Unfortunately, in heavily polluted areas these filters aren’t able to adequately remove the most harmful pollutants and actually clog up very quickly, and oftentimes (if not replaced on a very regular basis) the filter’s output is even more polluted than the source water coming in, due to an overflow or backwash effect.
A membrane based filtration application which is able to filter out bacteria and other harmful contaminants such as asbestos.
Commonly referred to as UV filtration, it is very effective in removing viruses, bacteria and certain chemicals.
It is often used in tandem with other membrane technologies which are able to remove smaller, more harmful contaminants
Another membrane technology and its major advantage is that it retains the majority of the minerals in the water.
It does not have the ability, however, to remove metal ions, atomic radii and some heavy metals if present in the source water.
Ultimately, while all of the above technologies have their advantages the choice of the best drinking water filter technology comes down to the quality of your source water.
The diagram above clearly shows that only reverse osmosis is able to remove all contaminants from any sample of water, including all heavy metals which unfortunately stay in our bodies for an extended period of time. It is clearly the best filter to ensure your water is potable.
Reverse osmosis as a technology has been around for over fifty years and has been used by NASA since the 1970’s. It’s a tried and tested technology and there are many brands available on the market in China.
When customising solutions for our clients, we only recommend imported brands. Their membranes prove to be the most reliable in terms of performance and have the most sustainable life spans.
Being well-informed about health issues is a necessity in today’s world and its always encouraging when the following question on reverse osmosis comes up in my water quality presentations:
“Doesn’t reverse osmosis literally filter everything out of the water, including minerals?”
The answer is that it does filter out the majority of minerals in the process, but bear in mind the following two points:
Apart from choosing and installing the best drinking water filter, regular maintenance is critical to ensure the filters and membrane are not clogged and are doing their job properly.
Some companies in China, such as ours, offer tap water quality testing, system warranties and maintenance services as part of the installation package.
The truth is that most of the anti-filtration sentiment and rumours out there have been fuelled by the China water bottle industry itself. Ironically, many bottlers here use filtration and quite frankly in China there have been many reported (and convicted fraud cases) where the bottled water sold has not met quality standards.
Furthermore, the issue of bottled water and its damage to the environment is a topic large enough for a full article in itself. Needless to say, reducing the number of plastic bottles you use will bring great benefits to the environment.
In closing, another comment that still comes up regularly in many presentations is that at home in China many people just simply boil the water to kill bacteria. The fact that this practice still exists is disturbing in itself when the list of contaminants in China’s source water is well-documented.
The optimum solution for China’s environment and the long-term health of its people would be if every drinking water point, in public, in the office or at home, was filtered of all contaminants. I’d like to believe that through raised awareness, discussion and education that this could one day become a reality.
Until then, please consider installing the best drinking water filter for your own home and office in China.
Jon Newton is the Managing Director and China Co-Founder of Life Solutions Filtration Systems which offers water filtration solutions and services in over 20 cities in China. He has been living in China for over 15 years and can be contacted on LinkedIn.
To return to our Shanghai Water Quality article
For the homepage of Health and Safety in Shanghai