Chemical and microbiological contamination has been detected by a government laboratory in eight brands of mineral and bottled water available in the open market. These eight brands have been deemed completely unsafe for human consumption. The report published by the Pakistan Council of Research in water Resources (PCRWR) states that “A] comparison of analytical findings with the permissible limits set by the Pakistan Standards and Quality Control Authority (PSQCA) has revealed that eight brands are unsafe due to chemical or microbiological contamination,”
The PCRWR had collected samples of 71 commercially available bottled water brands from local markets in seven cities of the country, including Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Lahore, Sialkot, Karachi, Tando Jam and Quetta. The results identified 8 bottled water brands as unsafe for human consumption which were
- Drop Ice.
- Days Pure.
- Aqua Safe.
Dangerous arsenic levels ranging from 11-35 parts per billion (ppb) were identified in Al-Sana, Aqua safe and Days Pure, which was alarmingly more than the limit set by the Pakistan Standards and Quality Control Authority as led than 10ppb. Diseases such as skin, diabetes, kidney problems, hypertension, heart ailments, birth defects, black foot and multiple cancers can be the result of these contaminants.
Microbiological contamination was found in Drop Ice, Effort and Butt that may cause Cholera, diarrhea, dysentery, hepatitis and typhoid. Abnormally high levels of sodium, were detected in Noble, Days Pure and Aqua safe, while abnormally high levels of Potassium were detected in Al-Haider.
The Federal Government has given the PCRWR the responsibility of monitoring the quality of bottled water through the minister of Science and Technology to monitor the bottled and mineral water brands on a quarterly basis and then provide the public with the list of these companies and make them aware of these hazardous water suppliers. The PCRWR has reported about 42 brands in the market, in 2014 which do no longer exist and now 37 new brands or rebranded varieties are currently present.
The samples in the study were:
- Collected by senior staff members of the National Water Quality Laboratory and regional and district water quality laboratories of the PCRWR.
- A set of four bottles of each brand was collected and sealed on site.
- Identification codes were allotted to all the brands according to the PCRWR Bottled Water Classification System.
Reasons for deteriorating water quality:
- Human waste.
- Chemical pollutants.
- Agricultural inputs.
The report stated that piped water gets contaminated due to the water pipes being laid closely to the sewage lines or open drains. Various water borne diseases penetrate the water supply leading to 45% of infant deaths due to diarrhoea and 60% to overall infectious waterborne diseases in Pakistan.