An investigation by Consumer Reports has revealed that some popular bottled water brands contain unsafe levels of arsenic, which could lead to serious illnesses.
The consumer watchdog examined public records and test results from different bottled water companies, as well as from state and federal regulators. It found that several bottled water products available in the market contain levels of arsenic that are either three parts per billion or more.
Drinking water that contains arsenic levels beyond 3 ppb is considered dangerous to human health, especially when consumed for long periods.
To help keep consumers safe, CR is urging the United States government to change the federal limit for bottled water products from the current 10 ppb to 3 ppb.
Arsenic Levels In Popular Bottle Water Products
Of the more than 130 bottled water brands that either self-reported or reviewed through CR's commissioned product tests, 11 showed traceable amounts of arsenic.
Six of these products had 3 ppb or higher levels of arsenic. These are:
- Crystal Geyser Alpine Spring Water
- Peñafiel (Keurig Dr Pepper)
- Starkey (Whole Foods)
- Volvic (Danone)
- Crystal Creamery
CR also tried to buy two imported brands of bottled water: Jermuk from Armenia and Peñafiel from Mexico. The U.S. government has already placed both products on its import alert because they tested for arsenic levels that went beyond the 10 ppb federal limit.
The Food and Drug Administration said the alert was set in place to keep products that violate the federal restriction from being distributed in the United States.
However, Consumer Reports was still able to buy the two products from retail stores in the country and online through Amazon.
Following the release of the CR report, Keurig Dr Pepper said it has suspended production of bottled water products at the company's facility in Mexico. It also plans to revamp its filtration process for such products.
Meanwhile, Whole Foods said it had conducted its own testing of bottled water products reviewed by CR and found that the arsenic levels were in an acceptable range. The supermarket chain claimed that its own tests reveal that its products are fully compliant with standards for heavy metals set by the FDA.
Whole Foods remains adamant that every production run of water undergoes proper testing before bottled water products are sold. It stressed that it would not sell products that fail to meet the FDA's requirements.
The company has already dealt with arsenic issues involving its Starkey Water product before. In 2016, it had to recall as many as 2,000 cases of bottled water from stores after testing showed that their arsenic levels were well beyond the federal limit.
Health Risk Of Arsenic
Arsenic is a chemical element commonly found in rock and sediment. Various human activities, such as mining and agricultural and industrial run-off, can often lead to arsenic contamination of groundwater sources.
People exposed to high levels of arsenic for long periods can develop skin disorders, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It can also increase their risk for severe illnesses such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and cancer.
Arsenic exposure has also been linked to an impairment of intellectual development, especially if people are exposed to the substance when they are still young.