Toxic PFAS Chemicals Found in Popular Bottled Water Brands
Around 47 bottled water brands were tested by our friends at Consumer Reports. This included 35 noncarbonated and 12 carbonated varieties, and the tests were to see if the water contained chemicals or metals.
The test focused on four heavy metals (arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury), plus 30 PFAS chemicals, which may pose special concerns as it can indefinitely linger in the environment.
Voluntary guidance was set by the federal government for PFAS, saying that two specific PFAS compounds combined should not exceed 70 parts per trillion. Some states set lower limits of 12 to 20 ppt. The International Bottled Water Association supports federal limits for PFAS with bottled waters ideally having PFAS levels below 5 ppt for any single compound and 10 ppt for more than one. Some experts set the cutoff for total PFAS levels at 1 ppt.
Test Results on Noncarbonated Water
Most of the noncarbonated water that was tested had detectable levels of PFAS, but only Tourmaline Spring and Deer Park exceeded 1 part per trillion.
Both companies defended by saying that their bottled water meets the requirements set by the IBWA and all states, with Nestlé saying that its most recent testing had undetected PFAS levels.
All noncarbonated water that was tested also showed heavy metal levels below federal safety limits except for Starkey Spring Water which is owned by Whole Foods. The brand had arsenic levels just shy of the federal limit of 10 parts per billion and more than the recommended 3 ppb.
Whole Foods stated that “our highest priority is to provide customers with safe, high-quality, and refreshing spring water. These products meet all FDA requirements and are fully compliant with FDA standards for heavy metals.”
Test Results on Carbonated Water
All tested carbonated water had heavy metal levels that were below legal limits, and none had arsenic levels above the recommended 3 ppb.
However, a lot had measurable levels of PFAS.
According to Phil Brown of the PFAS Project Lab at Northeastern University in Boston, the culprit could be the carbonation process itself. Aside from that, the source water could also be a factor since some brands treat water but do not remove PFAS to below 1 part per trillion.
Topo Chico, made by Coca-Cola and with the highest PFAS levels in the tests, said it would “continue to make improvements to prepare for more stringent standards in the future.”
Nestlé, who makes Poland Spring and Perrier, continues to insist that there are no detectable PFAS in their water from their recent testing and says it supports federal limits, while LaCroix and Polar challenged the test results and how they were arrived at.
Consumer Reports’ Brian Ronholm called for the need to set science-based PFAS compounds by the federal government in tap and bottled drinking water, stressing that “the fact that so many brands had total PFAS below 1 ppt shows it is feasible to get to more protective levels.”
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