Substandard drinking water quality has forced many Pakistanis to switch to bottled water for regular usage. However, a report released by Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR) has claimed at least 8 bottled water brands to be unsafe for consumption due to contamination.
These 8 brands of bottled water selling contaminated water include Aqua Safe, Al-Haider, Al, Sana, Drop Ice, Butt, Effort, Nobel and Days Pure. Four bottles of water from each brand, commercially available, were collected, sealed on the spot and marked with an identification code before being shipped to laboratories for testing.
Now a quarterly reporting system by PCRWR, on orders of federal government through Ministry of Science and Technology, the latest report states that the aforementioned brands of bottled water are unsafe due to high arsenic levels, microbiological contaminants and high sodium and potassium levels.
Aqua Safe, Al-Sana and Days Pure, with high arsenic levels, can cause kidney problems, birth defects, black foot, skin disorders, diabetes, heart problems and multiple types of cancers.
On the other hand, Effort, Drop Ice and Butt brands of bottled water, contaminated with microbes, can cause diseases like diarrhea, hepatitis, cholera, dysentery and typhoid. Nobel, Aqua Safe, Al-Haider and Days Pure were also found to have dangerously high levels of sodium too.
With the rising trend of drinking bottled water, at least 37 new brands of bottled water have emerged in the market this year, with 42 of the previous ones having completely disappeared from last year and only 34 of them being present consistently.
The report also mentioned the reasons for contamination, the most obvious being water pipelines situated very near to open drains and sewage lines. Other contaminants include industrial wastes and agricultural inputs.
The report further cited waterborne infectious diseases as one of the most common cause of infant deaths in Pakistan. While 60% of the infants succumb to death due to waterborne diseases, 45% of the children die of diarrhea alone.
These alarming results have made PCRWR urge the federal surveillance and quality control authorities to not only ban these brands of bottled water from commercial market but also take appropriate legal action against them.