Hong Kong’s water crisis: things we need to know


The fear over lead-polluted water in Hong Kong has turned residents’ lives into chaos and left more wondering if their water is safe to drink.

Parents are so much concerned about the questions: can I drink the water in my flat? Do I need to boil it? Will the lead-polluted water affect my children? The bad news is that lead can be extremely dangerous to drink, particularly for children who are more sensitive even to smaller quantities of lead than adults.

But hold on, there are still ways you can ensure your water is safe to drink.

Water quality testing is available at certain laboratories in Hong Kong for people concerned about their tap water, and certain filters can be use to remove lead from your water supply. Compared to other countries, Hong Kong has very strict guidelines about how much lead can be in tap water. It adheres to the World Health Organisation allotment of 10 micrograms per litre, less than in the United States or on the mainland.

However, the authority no longer bears any responsibility once the water has entered the private pipes in buildings. The water can be exposed to a range of chemicals, metals and bacteria from poorly maintained pipes.

So, how safe is it to drink Hong Kongs tap water?

When it comes to the city’s water mains, it is completely safe to drink, and complies with the WHO’s standards.

The problems are the pipes inside buildings both public and private of the city, which might not be properly maintained. Once the water comes in touch with these pipes, the quality of water can change dramatically.

Should I boil the water or get a filter to remove the lead?

Boiling the water will have no effect on the amount of lead and could even increase the concentration.

Certain filters can remove lead from your water, but do research before you buy. Filters can be are not necessarily equally effective.

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