22 bottled water brands found ‘unsafe’

ISLAMABAD - About 22 brands of bottled water being sold in different cities are unsafe for human consumption and may cause various diseases, says a government survey.
The monitoring survey of Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR), ministry of science and technology, found various bottled brands having chemical or microbiological contamination that can cause skin diseases, diabetes, kidney diseases, hypertension, heart diseases birth defects, black foot diseases and multiple types of cancers, cholera, diarrhoea, dysentery, hepatitis, typhoid etc.
According to the monitoring report for the quarter from January to March 2016, 111 samples of mineral/bottled water brands were collected from Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Lahore, Tando Jam, Bahawalpur, Sargodha, Sialkot, Faisalabad, Sahiwal, Multan, Gujranwala, Karachi, Quetta, Muzaffarabad and Peshawar.
Comparison of analytical findings with permissible limits of Pakistan Standards & Quality Control Authority (PSQCA) revealed that 22 brands (i.e. ECO, Coral Water, HI-Fresh, New Nation, Pak Aqua, HFC, Total, NG Fresh Water, Al-Habib, Silver, ORION, Aqua Arabia, Well Care, Desert Dew, New Deep, Lite Aqua, Aqua Smart, Avalon Pure Water, New Smart Aqua, Mazan Pure, Royal Blue and Aqua National) were found to be unsafe due to chemical or microbiological contamination.
Out of those unsafe brands, 120 brands (i.e. New Nation, HFC, Total, Well Care, Desert Dew, New Deep, Lite Aqua, Aqua Smart, New Smart Aqua, Mazan Pure, Royal Blue, Aqua National) have comparatively high level of arsenic ranging from 12-85 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, the report says. The consumption of three brands (ECO, Coral Water, HI-Fresh) that were found to be having microbiological contamination may cause cholera, diarrhoea, dysentery, hepatitis, typhoid etc. The remaining brands were found unsafe due to the presence of higher levels of sodium and potassium, it says.
The poor quality of drinking water has forced a large cross-section of citizens to buy bottled water. 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 have been selling contaminated water playing havoc with the public health. And, despite the continues publication of results in the media by PCRWR such brands continue to operate in the country as the concerned departments fail to take action or come up in the market with new names.