ISLAMABAD – A report of the Pakistan Standards and Quality Control Authority (PSQCA) released on Tuesday has revealed that 13 brands (including Aqua Plus, New Nation, Osam, Well care, Royal Oasis, Blue Plus, Livon, Al-Habib, Aqua National, Nation, Naimat, Siiz Cool, Royal Blue) are unsafe for drinking due to chemical contamination.

Out of these unsafe brands, seven brands including New Nation, Osam, Well care, Aqua National, Nation, Naimat, Siiz Cool) have extremely high levels of arsenic ranging between 13 and 50 ppb, according to a press release. The permissible level of arsenic in water is 10 ppb), according to the PSQCA.

Excessive levels of arsenic in water can cause various types of skin diseases, diabetes, kidney diseases, hypertension, heart diseases birth defects, black foot diseases and multiple types of cancers etc.

The remaining brands were found unsafe due to the presence of high levels of sodium and potassium. The poor quality of drinking water has forced a large cross-section of citizens to buy bottled water. As a consequence, there has been a mushrooming in growth of the bottled water industry during the last few years.

However, many of the mineral water companies continue selling contaminated water. To monitor and improve the quality of bottled water, the government of Pakistan’s Ministry of Science and Technology has tasked the Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources to monitor the quality of of bottled/mineral water brands and publicize the results every quarter.

According to the monitoring report for April to June 2016, 114 samples of Mineral/Bottled water brands were collected from Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Muzaffarabad Faisalabad, Sialkot, Sargodha, Multan, Lahore, Bahawalpur, Karachi, Tando Jam, Quetta and Peshawar.