Why Can’t Humans Drink Dirty & Contaminated Water?

Access to clean and safe drinking water is essential for the survival and wellbeing of human beings. Unfortunately, not all water sources meet the required standards, and some contain harmful contaminants such as bacteria, viruses, chemicals, and pollutants. Drinking dirty water can cause a range of health problems, including diarrhoea, cholera, typhoid, and even death. At Aquasafe, we offer innovative water filtration solutions to provide clean, healthy, and safe water for households, businesses, and communities. In this guide, we’ll explore why humans can't drink contaminated water and the risks associated with doing so, highlighting the importance of water filtration systems and how they can help address the global water crisis.

How Does Drinking Dirty Water Affect our Health?

Drinking dirty and contaminated water can have severe negative effects on human health. Waterborne diseases are a significant health risk in areas where access to clean drinking water is limited or non-existent. Consuming contaminated water can result in the contraction of illnesses such as cholera, dysentery, typhoid, and hepatitis A. These illnesses are caused by harmful bacteria, viruses, and parasites that thrive in contaminated water sources. 

In addition to waterborne diseases, water can be contaminated with chemicals and other pollutants. Drinking such water can lead to long-term health problems, such as cancer, kidney damage, and neurological disorders. The consequences of drinking polluted water is especially severe in children, pregnant women, and people with compromised immune systems. Understanding the severity of diseases that humans can contract from drinking contaminated water is key in appreciating the importance of clean and safe drinking water.

What Diseases Can You Get From Drinking Dirty Water?

The most common diseases humans can contract from drinking dirty water are: 


A bacterial infection that causes severe diarrhoea and dehydration, and can lead to death if left untreated.


A bacterial infection that causes fever, headache, and fatigue, and can lead to severe complications if left untreated.

Hepatitis A

A viral infection that affects the liver, causing symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and jaundice.


A bacterial infection that causes severe diarrhoea with blood and mucus, leading to dehydration and other complications.


A parasitic infection that causes diarrhoea, cramps, and bloating, and can last for several weeks.


A parasitic infection that causes diarrhoea, stomach cramps, and dehydration, and can be especially dangerous for people with weakened immune systems.

E. coli infection

A bacterial infection that causes diarrhoea, stomach cramps, and fever, and can lead to severe complications in rare cases.


A bacterial infection that causes diarrhoea, fever, and abdominal cramps, and can be especially dangerous for young children and elderly people.

Why Don’t Animals Get Sick From Drinking Dirty Water?

Animals have evolved over time to adapt to their surroundings, including the water sources they drink from. Many animals have a natural immunity to the microorganisms and contaminants found in dirty water, while others (such as birds and insects) have physiological adaptations, such as a shorter digestive tract, that allow them to process and eliminate harmful bacteria and parasites quickly. Even some domesticated species, including cats and dogs, have heightened senses of taste and smell that allow them to identify whether water is contaminated and avoid drinking it. 

While humans have also evolved over time, we have a unique reliance on social learning. Unlike animals, who rely mostly on their genetic makeup to adapt to their environment, humans have acquired knowledge, skills, and behaviours to innovate and solve problems more quickly. Our reliance on social learning has enabled us to overcome challenges and thrive in different environments, though we lack the physical adaptations that other animal species have developed.  

How Many People Die From Drinking Dirty Water?

Access to clean drinking water is a basic human right, yet millions of people around the world lack access to safe and clean water. According to the World Health Organisation, 2.2 billion people worldwide lack access to safe drinking water, and around 485,000 deaths occur each year due to diarrhoeal diseases caused by unsafe water, sanitation, and hygiene. These deaths disproportionately affect children under the age of five, with around 297,000 deaths occurring annually. Contaminated water is also the leading cause of many other health problems, such as malnutrition and stunted growth, which has long-term effects on human health. 

How to Make Dirty Water Safer to Drink

How can you make sure you have clean, safe drinking water, year-round? At Aquasafe, we offer a range of home water filter systems that use activated carbon, ceramic, and reverse osmosis membranes to remove a range of contaminants, including bacteria, viruses, chemicals, and heavy metals. Our range of filter systems include bench top, under-sink, and whole-house filters, and are designed to be easy to install and use, with no electricity or plumbing required. With Aquasafe, you can have peace of mind knowing that every sip of water you take is pure and refreshing. 

Find out whether Australian tap water is safe to drink as well as how to choose the right water filter system for your home