Industrial water taps are present in most biology laboratories I have been too. There are accompanied by a sign stating "do not drink". So obviously it is not a good idea to drink it.

However I could not find any information or reference concerning its safety for body use. The only indication I could find is that eye wash stations are using potable water instead of industrial water, suggesting that industrial water is not suitable for eye contact - at least.

My question: is it safe to use industrial water available in labs for hand washing, multiple times per day over the course of several years?

I am looking for a precise answer about the possible long term harm of industrial water in this context, if possible with references.

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  • 3
    $\begingroup$ You should ask this question of your university's Environmental Health and Safety department (or the equivalent). They will know the answer and are the only ones qualified to answer in your specific case. $\endgroup$
    – kmm
    Jan 14, 2015 at 23:06

1 Answer 1


The water from taps labelled "Industrial Water, Do Not Drink" comes from the same potable water line as domestic taps. The line should be split somewhere in the building, with the industrial line containing multiple backflow inhibitors to prevent cross contamination of potable or domestic water. Based on that fact, the water should be safe for hand washing, however, should be tested in the case of objective concern.

  • $\begingroup$ Thank you for clarifying: the appellation "industrial water" confused me, I thought it was coming from nearby industries... So I guess that it is in general safe to wash hands with such water - depending on the potential contamination sources that could backflow within the lab/building network. $\endgroup$
    – Jealie
    Jan 15, 2015 at 1:53
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    $\begingroup$ Right, I made a hasty generalization myself but then I realized it was a tap in an indoor lab.. The documentation is a pain to hunt down, but in the following resource from WHO they make the assertion: "All the water piping downstream of backflow protection devices is normally classified as an industrialized water system. To protect workers from taking this water for domestic use, each outlet in such industrializedwater systems should be clearly marked “Industrial water – do not drink”" who.int/water_sanitation_health/hygiene/plumbing15.pdf $\endgroup$
    – CKM
    Jan 15, 2015 at 4:56

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