Over large parts of the world, humans have inadequate access to potable water and use sources contaminated with disease vectors, pathogens or unacceptable levels of toxins or suspended solids. Drinking or using such water in food preparation leads to widespread acute and chronic illnesses and is a major cause of death and misery in many countries. Reduction of waterborne diseases is a major public health goal in developing countries.
Drinking water or potable water is water safe enough to be consumed by humans or used with low risk of immediate or long term harm. In most developed countries, the water supplied to households, commerce and industry meets drinking water standards, even though only a very small proportion is actually consumed or used in food preparation. Typical uses (for other than potable purposes) include toilet flushing, washing and landscape irrigation. The word potable came into English from the Late Latin potabilis meaning drinkable.