ISLAMABAD: A report compiled by the Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR) has found eight mineral water brands unsafe for human consumption as they contain chemicals and germs.

The report, available with Dawn, compiled during July to September 2014 shows that samples of as many as 65 brands were collected from the open markets of Islamabad, Peshawar, Lahore, Bahawalpur, Karachi and Quetta.

The report says nature provides water which is essential to sustain life, and access to safe drinking water is the basic human right.

But the rapidly deteriorating 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 bottled 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 PCRWR for quarterly monitoring of bottled/mineral water brands and publicize the results,” says report.

Report says comparison of analytical findings with permissible limits of Pakistan Standard Quality Control Authority (PSQCA) has revealed that eight brands-- Active, Aqua National, Sparkle Pure Water, AquaQ, Al-Sana, Elight Water, Alpine Hydr8 and Aab-i-Kousar--are found to be unsafe due to chemical or microbiological contamination.

Out of these eight unsafe brands, three brands (Active, Aqua National and Sparkle Pure Water) have comparatively high level of arsenic ranging from 19-27 ppb when compared with PSQCA Water Quality Standard for arsenic (10 ppb).

According to the statement issued by Director General National Water Quality Laboratory (NWQL) Lubna Naheed Bukhari 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.

Report says one brand (Elight Water) is found to be unsafe due to microbiological contamination which may cause cholera, diarrhea, dysentery, hepatitis, typhoid, etc., whereas other brands were found unsafe due to the presence of higher levels of Sodium.

Published in Dawn, October 16th, 2014

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