PSQCA declares several bottled water brands unsafe

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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Standards and Quality Control Authority (PSQCA) has found water from nine bottled water brands to be unsafe for human consumption due to chemical and microbiological contamination.

These nine brands have been identified as Clean Plus, NICE, Blue Ice, Pacific Pure, Rise Water, Al-Shalal, Al-Safia, GEM Water and Do Aab.

Owing to the poor quality of drinking water available to most citizens, many have resorted to buying bottled water. The country has witnessed a mushroom growth of bottled water industries in the last several years.

In order to monitor and improve the quality of bottled water, the government of Pakistan has appointed Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR) to monitor bottled water brands and publicize the results at a quarterly basis, said a press release on Wednesday.

According to the quarterly report for July-September 2017, 104 samples from bottled water brands have been collected from Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Sialkot, Peshawar, Multan, Lahore, Quetta, Bahawalpur, Tando Jam, Karachi and Muzaffarabad. The authorities have found the water from many of these brands to be contaminated.

Of the nine brands declared unsafe by PSQCA, four brands – Clean Plus, NICE, Blue Ice and Pacific Pure – have been found to contain higher levels of arsenic than the range declared by PSQCA to be safe. These brands are producing water at an arsenic composition level of 14-27 parts per billion (pbm) while the acceptable range is 10pbm. The excessive level of arsenic can lead to various types of skin diseases, diabetes, kidney diseases, hypertension, heart diseases, birth defects, black foot and cancer.

The water produced from five brands – Rise Water, Al-Shalal, Al-Safia, GEM Water, and Do Aab Water – was found to contain microbiological contamination which can cause cholera, diarrhoea dysentery, hepatitis and typhoid among other diseases.

Two of these brands – NICE and Pacific Pure – were also found to have high levels of sodium in their water, in the range of 82-130, which is higher than PSQCA’s standard 50 ppm.