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Tap water isn’t safe for at-home medical use, researchers warn

Tap water
Photo: sonsam/iStockphoto

Using tap water to rinse contact lenses or fill nasal irrigation or at-home respiratory devices can put your health at risk, researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say.

“Tap water that is safe to drink is not sterile,” the CDC says. “When used for medical purposes (e.g., nasal rinsing) unsterile tap water can result in infections from high consequence waterborne pathogens like nontuberculous mycobacteria and free-living amebae.”

The researchers surveyed more than 1,000 U.S. adults, and found that 62% of respondents believe tap water is safe for sinus rinsing. Half thought it was safe for rinsing contact lenses, while nearly 42% thought tap water was safe for filling medical respirators and humidifiers.

The agency says 7 million waterborne-related infections occur each year.

The study was presented May 5 at the Epidemic Intelligence Service Conference.

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