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Can You Drink Rainwater, What are the Risks Involved?

Water is an essential component of life and comprises 60% of the human body.(1)

People drink water from taps, wells, springs, rivers, or bottle. Whether drinking rainwater is safe or not arises in everybody’s mind.

Can You Drink Rainwater, What are the Risks Involved?

Is Rainwater Safe To Drink?

There is nothing wrong with drinking rainwater until it’s clean. Many communities depend on rainwater as a primary source of drinking water.

Rainwater only if fallen directly from the sky should be collected for drinking. It should not have touched the buildings, not even the plants as it might pick up toxic chemicals from these surfaces and get impure. Boiling the rainwater would make it even safer to drink.

Numerous physical and environmental factors can turn freshwater into a potential health hazard. It can lead to contamination of this water with bacteria, viruses, and parasites that are linked with disease outbreaks.(2)

Rainwater that comes in contact with contaminants such as animal feces or heavy metals is not appropriate to drink.

Risks Involved With Rainwater

There are many risks involved in drinking rainwater.

As rainwater is collected without any type of filtration, there is a big risk of it being contaminated with the following

Dirt, Debris, Bird Feces

Sometimes there is a risk of dirt, debris, or feces being washed off the roof into the water. Impure rainwater may have these entire things in it and would therefore affect health.

Bacteria, Chemicals, Viruses

Rainwater infected with bacteria, chemicals, and viruses can be hazardous to health. It is linked with the spread of water-borne illnesses.

Soot, Dust, Smoke and More

Dust, smoke, or other thing son the roof of the houses if gets washed, rain water can be potentially dangerous.

How To Improve The Safety Of Rainwater?

Various factors can affect the purity of rainwater that includes:

  • Geographical regions
  • Air pollution
  • Method and tools for collecting, treating, testing, and storing rainwater
  • Bacteria, viruses, or parasites can be eliminated from water by boiling it. Sometimes chemical treatment is required to remove other pathogens.(3)
  • Chemical contaminants like heavy metals can be eliminated with a help of some filtration system.(4)

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, rainwater that is collected for drinking purposes should be filtered, disinfected, and tested regularly.(2)

If someone is unable to carry out these processes then better keep rainwater for gardening, washing, and bathing purposes only.

How you collect rainwater is also an important consideration. It can be collected directly from the sky into a clean bucket or any other container. Let the rainwater sit for an hour so that any particulates settle to the bottom.

Can Drinking Rainwater Benefit Health?

Whether rainwater can benefit health or not has no evidence to back it.

There is a common health claim, that drinking rainwater can help increase the pH of the blood to make it more alkaline.

The truth is, no food or drink source can change the pH of the blood. The body has an efficient system to maintain blood pH at 7.4. The pH of the blood helps in maintaining various body functions, a deviation can lead to a serious health indication.(5)

Rainwater is not alkaline, instead, it is slightly acidic with a pH of about 5.0-5.5(6) It can be more acidic if the environment has more pollution.

There are various claims of health benefits of drinking rainwater and they are the exactly same if you drink clean water in general. If you think of drinking rainwater, you need to check for its purity to avoid getting infected with the pathogen that is present in it.

Rainwater is an easy way to obtain drinking water, but it might not be always safe to consume it. There are different ways it can get polluted that can lead to sickness.

If you are considering drinking rainwater make sure you boil, filter and chemical treat it, to make it safe for consumption.

Sheetal DeCaria, M.D.
Sheetal DeCaria, M.D.
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Sheetal DeCaria, M.D. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:April 5, 2021

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