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Types of bottled water

Posted by Laurentina on 31 May 2014 at 01:42 GMT

Was there a significant difference in the quantity of chemicals found in distilled bottled water, spring bottled water, municipal source bottled water?

No competing interests declared.

RE: Types of bottled water

Martin_Wagner replied to Laurentina on 02 Jun 2014 at 10:03 GMT

Dear Laurentina,

Thanks you very much for your interest in our research and your question! To answer it, I need to come up with some definitions first:

WHO's Codex Alimentarius distinguishes between 'natural mineral water' and 'packaged drinking water' (WHO 2001, 2011). 'Natural mineral water' is coming from underground waters in special protected areas and is only minimally treated (e.g., to remove iron). Compared to that, 'packaged drinking water' may come from any source (municipal, surface, ground water) and is 'purified' using distillation, reverse osmosis, ozonation, etc.

In Europe, unlike in the United States, most of the bottled waters on the shelf are 'natural mineral water'. Therefore, the majority our samples was bottled from underground waters. This might be what you call 'spring bottled water'. In our study we included only one 'packed drinking water' (purified tap water) because they are not very prevalent on the market.

Having analyzed 17 'natural mineral waters' and only one 1 'packed bottled water', we cannot compare the types of bottled waters you are interested in. However, the only 'packed bottled water' sample we analyzed was also significantly antiestrogenic and antiandrogenic. This means that 'purifying' bottled water by additional treatment does not remove the endocrine disrupting compounds in this product. Alternatively, the contamination may happens after the purification.

Concerning the 'quantity of chemicals' you are asking about: Thanks to the sensitive analytical methods we used, we detected a large number of compounds in each sample. While we found app. 20 000 peaks (signals) in the samples, our method detected between 1 100 and 2 200 organic chemicals with certainty. These numbers were approximately the same for all samples (also for tap water). Interestingly, each product had an individual chemical fingerprint, i.e., the number of detectable chemicals is similar but each sample contained a distinct set of compounds.

WHO (2001). “Codex standard for bottled/packaged drinking water”. In: Codex Alimentarius. Vol. CODEX STAN 227–2001. Rome, WHO, p. 4.
— (2011). “Codex standard for natural mineral waters”. In: Codex Alimentarius. Vol. CODEX STAN 108–1981. Rome, WHO, p. 4.

No competing interests declared.

Types of bottled water

agirard replied to Martin_Wagner on 17 Aug 2017 at 09:34 GMT

Regarding to the results of your experiments, do you think you can conclude about the source of the contamination ? Will it be the plastic bottle or the water itself ?
Which recommendations could you make about the choice of our drinking water ? Should we change often the brands to avoid contaminations on long term with similar chemicals ? Should we use tap water in stainless steel or glass contenant ?

I understand and agree with you about non naming the brands but it's pretty frustrating currently to hear about all those chemicals contamination, not knowing what to do about it and if we're taking the right decisions to protect our childrens.
Thank you anyway for your really interesting work and for replying to the different questions.

Best regards,

No competing interests declared.

RE: Types of bottled water

Martin_Wagner replied to agirard on 23 Aug 2017 at 08:56 GMT

Dear Alexandra,

Many thanks for your question! Currently, it is difficult to trace the source of chemical contamination in bottled water because there is only limited data available. Our's and other's work suggest that the plastic packaging (PET or the lids) is one source. Limited evidence also shows that in addition chemical contamination can come from the source (e.g., from agriculture nearby the bottling plants).

My suggestion (given that there are many things we do not know) is to first check the quality of your tap water. For this, you can contact your local water supplier. In many countries, the quality of tap water is very good and strict regulations are in place with regard to chemical safety (often more strict than for bottled water). From the Flint water crisis, however, we have also learnt that this is not always true. So check with the supplier. If you want to be on the (even more) safe side, install a carbon or reverse osmosis filter on your tap. These are very effective in removing residual contaminants.

If you want to carry your tap water with you, for instance when doing sports, I suggest to use stainless steel or glass bottles as these leach only very little chemicals. When you go for the stainless steel option, make sure it does not have an inner lining. These coatings are often made of epoxy resin, which is a source of Bisphenol A and other chemicals. If you are not sure, ask the seller. I discourage the use of "BPA-free" plastic bottles as some studies show that these still leach endocrine disrupting chemicals.

Hope this helps with your decision!


You can find a list of our previous studies on bottled water here:

Research on leaching of chemicals from BPA-fee products:

No competing interests declared.