ISLAMABAD - A monitoring report has found that bottled water of 19 brands is unsafe for human consumption that can cause various diseases.
According to the monitoring report of Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR) for the quarter April-June, 2014, 111 samples of mineral/bottled water brands were collected from Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Lahore, Faisalabad, Sialkot, Sahiwal, Sargodha, DG Khan, Multan, Bahawalpur, Tandojam, Karachi, Quetta, and Peshawar.
Comparison of analytical findings with permissible limits of Pakistan Standard Quality Control Authority (PSQCA), Ministry of Science and Technology, revealed that 19 brands - Nation, Splish Aryana, Pure Fresh Water, New Deep, Fit, Alfa Blue, Sehat, Unique Water, Butt, Active, Aqua National, Nature Aqua, Cool, Lite Aqua, Aqua Smart, Pure 99, Al Habib, Life (Islamabad) and Spring Fresh - were found to be unsafe due to chemical or microbiological contamination.
Out of those 19 unsafe brands, 13 brands - Nation, Splish Aryana, Pure Fresh Water, New Deep, Fit, Alfa Blue, Sehat, Unique Water, Butt, Active, Aqua National, Nature Aqua and Cool - have comparatively high level of arsenic ranging from 14-62 ppb than PSQCA Water Quality Standard for arsenic (10 ppb). The excessive level of arsenic can cause various types of skin diseases, diabetes, kidney diseases, hypertension, heart diseases birth defects, black foot diseases and multiple types of cancers etc.
Whereas 05 brands - Pure 99, Al Habib, Life (Islamabad) Spring Fresh and Lite Aqua - were found to be unsafe due to microbiological contamination which may cause cholera, diarrhoea, dysentery, hepatitis, typhoid etc. The remaining brands were found unsafe due to the presence of higher levels of sodium and total dissolved solids (TDS).
The national quality control/surveillance authorities should take legal action against the companies, which are supplying contaminated bottled water to the public and playing havoc with the public health, recommends the study.
The poor quality of drinking water has forced a large cross-section of citizens to buy bottled water and as a consequence of this expanding market a mushroom growth of bottled water industry in the country is witnessed during the last few years. However, many of the mineral water companies are found selling contaminated water, said Lubna Naheed Bukhari, Director LDIC at PCRWR.
Due to consistent monitoring of PCRWR, microbiological contamination of bottled water has decreased to some extent but the presence of high level of arsenic ranging from 14-62 ppb is very dangerous, she cautioned. "It's poison. Continuous consumption of arsenic for 10 years can cause serious disorders and disabilities.
PSQCA has set water quality standard for arsenic up to 10 ppb due to increasing water pollution in the country but in advanced even 1ppd arsenic is not allowed in water," she said.