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Hong Kong's tainted water scare

China's Xiaomi unveils cheap water purifier as Hong Kong still rattled by lead-in-water scare

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 16 July, 2015, 8:43pm
UPDATED : Friday, 17 July, 2015, 3:04pm

China’s top smartphone maker Xiaomi released teasers this week of a water purifier it will launch soon that it claims is easy-to-use and attaches to a kitchen tap. 

The promotional effort is nothing if not timely, as Hong Kong has been beset by news that potable water supplies at a public housing estate in Kowloon contained dangerous levels of lead. 

On its official Twitter account, the electronics giant said its Mi Water Purifier turns tap water into drinking water by reverse osmosis, which applies pressure through a membrane to separate purified water from tap water.

It did not say when the device would be made available in Hong Kong. Shoppers in mainland China can buy it from July 28 at a cost of 1,299 yuan (US$209).

Xiaomi has recently branched out into products for “smart” homes. It released an air purifier last December and unveiled a whole suite of gadgets in January for a more digitally connected home, including human motion sensors.

At the same event, Xiaomi also announced an update to its range of cut-price, high quality smart televisions. 

Like many of the company’s home appliances, the water purifier works in tandem with an app that informs users of how effective its filtering system is in real time, and reminds them when they need to swap the filter.

The base of the purifier is smaller than a sheet of A4 paper. It can treat a litre of water every minute, the company said. 

Hong Kong may prove a lucrative market for such devices after the water scare that emerged last week, when local authorities revealed that water samples from a housing estate in Kowloon contained excessive amounts of lead, sparking anxiety across the city. 

READ MORE: Hong Kong’s lead-in-drinking-water crisis - everything you need to know

The legionella genus of bacteria was also detected at one of the six buildings that were affected by the tainted water. The bacteria can cause legionnaires’ disease, which triggers pneumonia-like symptoms.

The tainted water was attributed to the pipes used by the contractors. Affected residents are now collecting fresh water from temporary distribution pipes. 

The government has said it will test water samples from 10 more estates in a bid to reassure the public.