ISLAMABAD – Pakistan’s nine leading brands of bottled water are contaminated with chemical and microbiological contamination, according to a report of Pakistan Standards and Quality Control Authority (PSQCA), issued on Wednesday.

The water brands were identified as Pure Water, Plus Piyaas, 3 Star, Douro, Real Plus, Pure It, Elayn Plus, Crystal Maya and Aqua Saad.

All nine companies failed to meet the water purity standards set by the Standard Quality Control Authority, according to the PSQSA’s July to September report 2018. The samples from these companies were found to be contaminated with chemical or other microbiological impurities.

The researchers have made this comparison of analytical findings within its permissible limits. According to the report, 118 samples of mineral/bottled water brands have been collected from Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Gujranwala, Peshawar, Multan, Lahore, Bahawalpur, Rahim Yar Khan, Tandojam, Quetta and Karachi.

Out of those unsafe brands, one brand (i.e. Plus Piyaas) has comparatively high levels of Arsenic i.e. 15 ppb exceeding than PSQCA bottled water standard for arsenic of 10 ppb.

The excessive level of arsenic can cause various types of skin diseases, diabetes, kidney diseases, hypertension, heart diseases birth defects, black foot diseases and multiple types of cancers etc.

While the three brands including Elayn Plus, Crystal Maya and Aqua Saad were found to be unsafe due to microbiological contamination which may cause Cholera, Diarrhea, Dysentery, Hepatitis, Typhoid etc, the report stated.

Whereas four brands including Pure Water, 3 Star, Douro and Real Plus were found unsafe due to the presence of higher levels of Sodium ranging from 60-115 ppm.

Another brand `Pure It’ was found unsafe due to the presence of higher levels of Fluoride i.e. 1.8 ppm. The PSQCA bottled water quality standard for sodium is 50 ppm and for fluoride is 0.7 ppm, the report said.

The poor quality of drinking water has forced a large cross-section of citizens to buy bottled water.

As a consequence of this expanding market, a mushroom growth of bottled water industry in the country is witnessed during the last few years. However, many of the mineral/bottled water companies were found selling contaminated water.

To monitor and improve the quality of bottled water, the government through Ministry of Science and Technology has designated the task to Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR) for quarterly monitoring of bottled/mineral water brands and publicize the results.