ISLAMABAD: More than a 100 brands of bottled water have been identified as unsafe for human consumption in the Pakistan Council for Research in Water Resources’ (PCRWR) quarterly report.

PCRWR has been tasked by the government through the Ministry of Science and Technology to monitor the quality of bottled water and publish its results in an attempt to improve the quality of bottled drinking water.

Samples of 111 bottled water brands were collected from across the country, including the federal capital, Rawalpindi, Lahore, Karachi and Peshawar.

In a statement, the water quality monitoring body of the Ministry of Science and Technology said that the poor quality of drinking water is the reason many people are buying bottled water for drinking.

Due to more demand, there has been an increase in the number of bottled water companies over the last few years.

“However, many of the mineral water companies were found selling contaminated water,” the PCRWR statement said.

According to the report for January to March 2016, 22 brands are unsafe for drinking due to chemical and microbiological contamination.

These include 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.

The report says that from these, 12 brands had high levels of arsenic ranging from 12 to 85 parts per billion when the Pakistan Standards and Quality Control Authority standard for arsenic is 10 parts per billion.

These brands include New Nation, HFC, Total, Well Care, Desert Dew, New Deep, Lite Aqua, Aqua Smart, New Smart Aqua, Mazan Pure, Royal Blue and Aqua National among others.

In their statement, PCRWR warns that excessive levels of arsenic can cause various types of skin diseases, diabetes, kidney diseases, hypertension, heart diseases, birth defects, black foot disease and multiple types of cancers.

The water testing lab has said that three brands, including ECO, Coral Water and Hi Fresh were found to be unsafe due to microbiological contamination which can lead to cholera, diarrhoea, dysentery, hepatitis and typhoid.

Other brands were found to be unsafe due to the presence of high levels of sodium and potassium.

Published in Dawn, April 7th, 2016

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