“Altogether 33 of 63 brands were found unsafe,” the Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR) announced after conducting a scientific analysis of samples of bottled water collected from nine major cities.
The samples of commercially available brands of bottled water were analysed by the ISO-17025 accredited National Water Quality Laboratory in the federal capital for physico-chemicals and microbiological parameters.
The PCRWR said that 22 brands were found unsafe because of bacteriological contamination and 14 were chemically contaminated.
The results are based on quarterly sampling of bottled water during January-March this year.
The brands with bacteriological contamination were Elan, Sprinkle, Legend, Alfa, Shahi Avisa, Miracle, Aab-e-Sehat, Keeper, Spring Fresh, DeAar, Asmo, Fresh Lay, Aqua One, Zinpa, Maza, Aspen, Piyass Plus, Pak Crystal, Classic, Aqua Save, Khyber Aqua and Aqua Water.
The brands found chemically contaminated were Alfa, Max Fresh, Pak Crystal, Classic, Nation, Avion, Active, Clean Plus, Aqua Clean, Pacific, Cool, Bake Master, Isberg and Droplet.
Three brands were found unsafe on both counts -- Alfa, Pak Crystal and Classic.
The PCRWR said it was alarming that more than half the brands sold at exorbitant prices were unsafe for drinking. Manufacturers of such brands were minting money at the cost of public health, it said.
The council said data also suggested that when a brand was banned because of poor quality, it reappeared under a different label.
The samples were collected in January from Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Lahore, Bahawalpur, Multan, Peshawar, Quetta, Karachi and Hyderabad.
Laboratory findings were compared with permissible limits of the Pakistan Standard Quality Control Authority.
The PCRWR said that over the previous two quarters, 14 brands had disappeared and 34 new ones had emerged. It said the new brands might include with changed labels those which had disappeared.
The 30 brands declared safe are Gourmet, Berg, Nectar, Nestle, Aquafina, Ripple, Vey, Sparkletts, First Water, Snow Mountain, Pakola Vital, Meme, Kinley, Best Water, Buxton, Culligan, Blue Gold, Better Life, Aqua Link, Natural, Fairmount, Sufi, Unipak Healthy Life, Voila, Pak Pure, Snow Cape, Hamaliyan, Kinza, Golden and Aqua Hygenic.
The water quality was analysed on the basis 25 parameters of mineral contents and taste according to standards set by the World Health Organisation, International Bottled Water Association and the PSQCA.
A set of four bottles of each brand was collected and sealed on site. One of them was handed over to shopkeepers at the time of sample collection, second was preserved in the laboratory of the PCRWR and the other two were used for analysis. Identification codes were allotted to all the brands according to the water classification system.