Only 23 percent of recent tap water samples from China’s main cities met national health standards, according to figures from the Chinese Academy of Preventive Medicine. The percentage would be even lower if water from towns and villages in the countryside had been sampled, the academy said. Scarcity of water is also a serious issue in China, where the average per capita availability of water is only one-quarter of the world average, according to the Ministry of Water Resources.

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.