Islamabad - Over 20 leading brands of bottled water on sale in Pakistan are unsafe for human consumption, according to a government report published yesterday.

According to the quarterly monitoring report of Pakistan Council of Water Resources, samples of water taken from a wide range of brands including Aqua National, Crystal Pure Water, and Pure Fresh were found to contain dangerous levels of chemical or microbiological contamination. Of the 23 brands named in the report, 13 were found to have high levels of arsenic, which can cause a range of skin diseases, kidney diseases, hypertension, heart diseases birth defects, black foot diseases and multiple types of cancers etc.

Four brands (Oriel, Zenith, Miracle, Nahla) were found to be unsafe due to microbiological contamination which can cause cholera, diarrhoea, dysentery, hepatitis, typhoid etc. The remaining brands were found unsafe due to the presence of higher levels of sodium and potassium.

The poor quality of drinking water in Pakistan has forced millions of citizens to buy bottled water. As a consequence of this expanding market a mushroom growth of bottled water industry in the country has been seen in the last few years.

However, many of the mineral water companies were found selling contaminated water. To monitor and improve the quality of bottled water, the government of Pakistan through ministry of science and technology has designated the task to PCRWR for quarterly monitoring of bottled/mineral water brands and publicise the results.

The report says that the government ordered the national quality control/surveillance authorities to take legal actions against the named companies, which are supplying contaminated bottled water to the public and playing havoc with the public health.