Dr. Dean

Can Rusty Water Make Me Sick?

Posting Date: 02/10/1999

David: The water in my apartment is rusty from the pipes and the owner will not fix the hot water heater. I was wondering what health risks there could be in using rusty water?

Dr. Dean: Most importantly, you should not drink water from your hot water heater. There are a few other reasons not to do this, in terms of the way the hot water heaters work. If you have an electric hot water heater, there are certain minerals in there.

If the pipes are rusty, you can still wash with this water, because rust is not harmful to the human body. (As a matter of fact, one of the best ways to get iron into your system is to cook your food in a cast iron pot.)

Cold water from rusty pipes won't kill you if you drink it, but obviously it's not very appealing and can have a terrible taste.