4-Samadi

JRHS 2009; 9(2): 25-31

Copyright © Journal of Research in Health Sciences

Evaluation of Chemical Quality in 17 Brands of Iranian Bottled Drinking Waters

Samadi MT( PhD)a, Rahmani AR( PhD)a,  Sedehi M( MSc)b, Sonboli N( BS)a

a Department of Environmental Health Engineering, Faculty of Public Health and Center for Health Research, Hamadan University of Medical Sciences, Iran

b Department of Biostatistics, Faculty of Public Health, Hamadan University of Medical Sciences, Iran

*Corresponding author: Dr Rahmani, Email: rahmani@umsha.ac.ir

Received: 7 June 2008; Accepted: 18 November 2009

Abstract

Background: The purpose of study was to evaluate and compare chemical quality of Iranian bottled drink­ing water reported on manufacturer's labeling and standards.

Methods: This study was a cross-sectional descriptive study and done during July to December 2008. The bottled mineral water collected from shops randomly were analyzed for all parameters address on manu­facturer's labeling and the results were compared with the manufacturer's labeling data, WHO Guide­line Values, USEPA Maximum Contaminant Levels and the maximum contaminant levels of drink­ing water imposed by the Iranian legislation. Statistical analysis on data was done with the Kolmo­gorov-Smirnov test for normal distribution, the paired t-test to compare the data with manufac­turer's label­ing and the one-sample t-test to compare with standard and MCL values at P < 0.05 of confidence level.

Results: The results showed a statistically significant difference with manufacturer's labeling values, how­ever there was no significant difference between the values of magnesium and pH and manufac­turer's labeling values (P> 0.05). In addition, pH and calcium values were significantly higher than their pro­posed values indicated by Iranian National Legislation and international MCLs (P< 0.05).

Conclusion: Our results are extremely important for the health supervisory agencies such as Ministry of Health and Institute of Standards & Industrial Research of Iran to have more effective controls on bot­tled water industries, and to improve periodical the proposed standard values.

Keywords: Bottled water, Chemical quality, Drinking water standards, Iran 

Introduction

The quest for high-quality water has been an objective of human society going back to pre­historic times. Early humans gathered in lo­ca­tions with readily accessible sources of water and if the water was believed to be of ques­tion­able quality, entire settlements would be aban­doned. The first documented drinking water treatment can be found in Egyp­tian hierogly­phics, describing proce­dures to purify water. The basic principles were the same then as they are today; boil­ing, chemical treatment and fil­tration were rec­ommended treatments. Al­though the impor­tance of drinking water qual­ity was known, the specific contaminants would not be identified for centuries to come (1). 

       Bottled water consumption has been steadily growing up the last three decades in a global level (2). The main reason for this rapid con­sumption was the lack of safe and accessible drinking water and the taste of chemicals, par­ticularly chlorine, used to purify tap wa­ter (3-5). Today, 450 million people in 29 countries suf­fer from water shortages. Wa­ter-related con­cerns are also the most acute in arid or semi-arid areas. Many countries with scarce water re­sou­rces rely on alterna­tive or non-conven­tional water resources (6). In some countries, for instance, it is allowed to have 5L water bottles which may in-crease the probability of contamination be­cause bot­tles will stay opened for an extended time(7).

Furthermore, the ancient marketing and ad­ver­tising strategies followed by the bottled water producers enhanced this consumption. The evi­dence supporting this fact is that espe­cially con­sumers who live in developed countries buy bot­tled water as a healthy alter­native to other bev­erages, to improve their diet and health. Bot­tled water is called the packaged water that is com­mercially avail­able for human consump­tion (4).

Bottled water is also utilized in emergency or water shortage situations caused by natu­ral dis­asters (e.g. drought, earthquake, flood and hur­ricane) or human-made disasters (e.g. sabotage, siege, terrorism and war), which can severely damage public and private wa­ter supplies for extended periods of time (6). The popularity of bottled water can be gauged by the num­ber of brands produced worldwide (over 5000); a significant portion of these brands are traded internationally. In a 2002 survey, published by a market re­search company, it was estimated that people all over the world drink annually about 131×109 L of bottled water (8). West­ern Euro­peans, as a whole, drink nearly half of all the world's bottled water (9) .

The European Federation of Bottled Water (EFBW) estimates the consumption of bot­tled water in the European Union during 2003 as 45,000 ml (excluding bottles> 10 l). The water- sales worldwide exceed a value of 5 billion eu­ros (10). Western Europe is not only the larg­est regional market, but it is also the most devel­oped. It is dominated by Italy, France, Bel­gium, Germany and Spain, in all of which per capita consumption of bottled water has ex­ce­eded the 100 L barrier in L per capita per year. This estimated US$45 bil­lion world­wide industry is growing faster than ever as water quality concerns, fitness and health aware­ness increase among the con­sumers (based on an es­timated price of 0.35 US$ per L of bottled water (11).

Non-carbonated bottled water has become more popular than carbonated, being a substi­tute for tap water in many homes (6). The usage of bot­tled water in the world (2007) and the in­creasing of bottled water con­sumption in Asian countries in the last years are shown in Fig­ure 1 and Table 1, re­spectively. The present re­gulations and stan­dards for the control of che­mical quality of drinking water are also sum­marized in Table 2.

Figure. 1: The usage of bottled water in the world (2007)a.

a Beverage Marketing Corporation (2008)

Table 1: Asian bottled water market change in consumption by country (2002-2007)a

Countries

2002/03

2003/04

2004/05

2005/06

2006/07

5 yr CAGR

China (with Taiwan)

17.9%

26.1%

14.9%

13.9%

15%

17.5%

Indonesia

13%

6%

3.4%

7.3%

11.4%

8.2%

Thailand

2%

0.6%

0.5%

8.3%

7.5%

3.7%

India

45.6%

32.7%

23.8%

4.9%

6.5%

21.7%

Korea, (Republic of)

20%

20%

17.2%

11.5%

11.4%

16%

Japan

9.3%

11.1%

12.8%

28.3%

8.3%

13.7%

Philippines

5.5%

3.8%

4.4%

10%

8.8%

6.4%

Pakistan

5.9%

9.8%

11.2%

13.8%

9.5%

10%

China, Hong Kong SAR

10%

10%

10.1%

11.9%

8.4%

10.1%

Malaysia

8.5%

12%

11.3%

4.6%

9.5%

9.1%

Viet Nam

9.1%

3.6%

4.2%

15.9%

8.6%

8.2%

Singapore

8%

7.8%

7.8%

11.5%

9.8%

9%

Brunei

9%

9%

9%

4.2%

2.1%

6.6%

Subtotal

13.6%

14.4%

10.2%

11.3%

11.5%

12.2%

All others

9.2%

5.7%

6.3%

5.9

4.5%

6.3%

Global Total

10.1%

7.5%

7.2%

7.1%

6.1%

7.6%

During the past decade, there has been a con­siderable increase in the household con­sump­tion of bot­tled water in Iran, especially in the summer. The main source of bottled water sold in Iran is from protected springs, and the re­maining is pumped from drilled wells tapping an aquifer (6).

Table 2: Present regulations and standards for the drinking water

Parameter

Unit

EECa

(1998)

(MAC)d

WHOb

(1998)

(GV)e

EPAc

(2002)

(MCL)f

Iranian Legislation

(1997)

(MCL)

Arsenic (As)

mg L1

0.01

0.01

0.01

0.05

Barium (Ba2+)

mg L1

-

0.7

2

1

Beryllium (Be)

mg L1

-

-

0.004

-

Cadmium (Cd2+)

mg L1

0.005

0.003

0.005

0.01

Calcium (Ca2+)

mg L1

-

-

-

200

Chloride (Cl)

mg L1

250

-

250

600

Chromium (Cr)

mg L1

0.05

0.05

0.1

0.05

Copper (Cu)

mg L1

2

2

1.3

1

Fluoride (F)

mg L1

1.5

1.5

2

1.7

Iron (Fe)

mg L1

0.2

-

0.3

1

Lead (Pb)

mg L1

0.01

0.01

0.015

0.05

Magnesium (Mg2+)

mg L1

-

-

-

30g -150h

Manganese (Mn2+)

mg L1

0.05

0.4

0.05

0.5

Mercury (Hg)

mg L1

0.001

0.001

0.002

0.001

Nitrate (NO3)

mg L1

50

50

44

45

Nitrite (NO2)

mg L1

0.5

0.2

3.3

0.004

Potassium (K+)

mg L1

-

-

-

-

Sulfate (SO42)

mg L1

250

-

250

250

TDS

mg L1

-

-

500

500

Turbidity

NTU

-

-

1

25

pH

-

6.5 -9.5

-

6.5 8.5

6.5 8.5

a European Economic Community, b World Health Organization, c US Environmental Protec­tion Agency,

d Maximum admissible concentration., e Guideline value., f Maximum contaminant level

g IF SO42>250, h IF SO42<250

This is a proof that the bottled water industry has done an outstanding job in marketing its product as a safe alternative to tap water, even though the price of bottled water in Iran is over than 1000 times higher than that of tap water.

In the present study, we investigated the chemi­cal characteristics of domestic brands of bot­tled water sold in Iran market and ques­tioned their accuracy and precision with the levels reported on manufacturer's label­ing. Also a re­view of the current regulations re­garding bottled water in Iran (12) was made and compared to current drinking wa­ter standards around the world including Euro­pean Economic Commu­nity Council Di­rective 98/83/EC (13) , United States Envi­ronmental Protection Agency (2004) , and draft third edition of the WHO Guide­lines for Drinking-Water Quality (2004) .

Methods

Water samples

In this study, 51 bottles with 17 brands which produced domestically and distributed all over the country were purchased from lo­cal super­markets in Hamadan (west of Iran) during the period 2006-2007. The samples im­ported non-carbonated water in polyvinyl chloride (PVC) 1.5 liters bottles capacity and all with the same production date were car­ried out by the La­boratory of Water and Wastewater Chemistry of Hamadan School of Public, certified by Iranian Department of Environment (DOE).

Chemical analysis

All water samples were examined for the che­mical parameters addressed on the manu­fac­turer's labeling including pH, alkalinity, chloride, fluoride, sulfate, nitrate, total dis­solved solids (TDS), magnesium, total hard­ness, calcium, sodium and potassium. Chemi­cal analysis was carried out according to the standard meth­ods of water and wastewa­ter examinations: pH (electronic pH meter), TDS (gravimetric me­thod), alkalin­ity, chloride, total hardness, cal­cium and mag­nesium (tetrimetric method), sul­fate (both spectrophotometry in Shimadzu model UV-1700 and turbidimetry methods), fluo­ride (spectrophotometry by applying SPADNS re­agent), sodium and potassium (spectro­pho­to­metry) and nitrate (UV-Vis spectrophotometry).

Statistical analysis

The data from chemical examinations were ana­lyzed by Kolmogorov-Smirnov for evalua­tion of normal distribution of data, paired t-test for the comparison of data with manufac­turer's la­beling and one sample t-test for the com­pari­son of obtained records with standard and MCL values at P values< 0.05 of confidence level.

Results

The results from physical and chemical exami­nations of bottled waters compared with the constituents reported on bottle la­bels are shown in Table 3 . For most ele­ments the difference between the lowest (pH) and highest (total hard­ness) concentra­tion was 20 orders of magni­tude. pH was changed by about 1.2 order of magnitude, how­ever the total hardness values showed 282 folds increase. Also our data analy­sis showed a wide dispersion in the source and chemical composition of Iranian bottled wa­ters (Table 3).

Table 3: Chemical and physical analysis of bottled waters in comparison of the constituents reported on the it's labels.

Brand

Nitrate c

Sulfate c

Chlo­ride

Fluoride

Magne­sium

Sodium

Potas­sium

Cal­cium

Total Hardness

pH

Alkalinity

TDS

Ma

Lb

Ma

Lb

Ma

Lb

Ma

Lb

Ma

Lb

Ma

Ma

Ma

Lb

Ma

Lb

Ma

Lb

Ma

Lb

Ma

Lb

Ma

Lb

B1

9.2

3.1

50

40

8.5

6

0.21

0.22

13.4

26.7

4

4

0.8

1

64

48

120

200

8.2

7.4

1.7

-

155

-

B2

6.2

-

24

11

22.7

6

0.22

0.2

9.6

15.4

11

11

0.5

0.6

180

57

220

-

7.6

7.3

3

-

252

-

B3

8.8

0.5

5

2

7.1

6

0.21

0.1

0.9

7.2

8.5

8.5

1

0.4

100

40

104

-

8.1

7.9

290

120

125

-

B4

5.3

7

12

10

4.3

6

0.22

2

-

-

2

2

0.4

1

20.1

28

26

90

8.1

7.3

1.6

-

180

-

B5

16.3

12.1

58

76

10.7

15

0.3

0.3

0.5

0.6

41.5

41.5

0.5

1

30

13

32

60

8

7.8

1.2

-

188

160

B6

1.8

0.6

16

24

34.4

45

0.47

0.07

10

13.3

28

28

2

0.3

186

71.1

228

-

8

7

480

200

303

-

B7

9.2

17

63

49

28

118

0.28

0.9

17.3

35

4

4

1

0.4

50

24

122

-

7.5

7.2

160

63

219

-

B8

7.5

7.3

19

100

63

68

0.2

0.1

0

9.6

44.5

44.5

1

2

0

22.5

0

96

8

7.6

92

56

188

320

B9

4.4

2.3

17

19

10

0.7

0.47

0.11

0

2.3

7.5

7.5

3

1.9

0

9.8

0

-

7.9

7

60

29

46

-

B10

14.1

6.5

13

-

14.2

6

0.12

0.6

15.5

12.5

4

4

0.8

1

3.2

62

39

-

8.4

-

30

104

94

95

B11

3.1

6

10

10

11.1

8

0.52

0.3

-

-

2.3

2.3

0.8

0.5

61

62.8

144

-

7.9

7.7

179

-

190

-

B12

14.1

4

19

21

14.2

16.4

0.34

0.23

9.1

20.3

8

8

1

1.4

172

-

210

-

8.2

7.5

222

260

236

-

B13

5.3

0.5

3

3

-

-

0.42

0.07

0.5

7.6

5.5

5.5

0.5

0.1

60.1

-

82

-

-

-

240

144

106

-

B14

11.9

-

71

120

-

-

0.46

0.37

19.2

26

16.5

16.5

4.5

-

202

-

282

-

-

-

534

-

319

-

B15

6.5

6.1

22

17

44

32

0.54

0.45

0.8

0.5

8.5

8.5

0.7

0.5

75

50

120

-

7.8

-

352

275

196

-

B16

10.1

7.9

15

10

13.1

10

0.24

0.3

12.4

10

15.7

15.7

2.4

1.5

105

100

155

50

8.7

7.8

480

-

220

170

B17

8.9

5.4

8

7

22.3

30

0.42

0.5

7.8

5.5

4.9

4.9

1.6

1

62

45.5

175

80

7.1

7.2

320

225

145

-

Ave.

Min.

Max.

8.4

1.8

16.3

5.8

0.5

17

25.0

3

71

32.4

2

120

20.5

4.3

63

24.9

0.7

118

0.3

0.12

0.54

0.3

0.07

2

7.8

0

19.2

12.8

0.5

35

12.7

2

44.5

12.7

2

44.5

1.3

0.4

4.5

0.9

0.1

2

80.6

0

202

45.3

9.8

100

121.1

0

282

96.0

50

200

8.0

7.1

8.7

7.4

7

7.9

202.7

1.2

534

147.6

29

275

186.0

46

319

186.3

95

320

a Measured Value          b Labeled Value          C  mg/L          d mg/L (CaCO3)

Discussion

The evaluation and comparison of data ob­tained by physicochemical examination of bot­tled samples chemicals were analyzed by Sta­tistical tests (Table 4). Kolmogorov-Smir­nov statistical test showed that all data had a nor­mal distribution (P< 0.05). There­fore, para­met­ric paired t-test and one sample t-test would be applicable.

Results of paired t-test indicated that values from analytical examinations of fluoride, ni­trate, chloride, sulfate, sodium, potassium, TDS, total hardness, calcium and alkalinity had a sig­ni­fi­cant statistical difference with manufac­turer's labeling values (P< 0.05). Nev­ertheless there was no significant differ­ence among the values for magnesium and pH from analyti­cal ex­ami­nations and manu­facturer's labeling values (P> 0.05). One sam­ple t-test results in­dicated that pH and cal­cium had significant statistical difference with Iranian National Leg­islation and Interna­tional MCLs, respectively (P< 0.05), however these parameters had no sever averse health effects for consumers. The val­ues for fluo­ride, nitrate, magnesium, chlo­ride, sulfate, sodium, potassium, TDS, total hardness and alkalinity had no significant sta­tistically dif­fer­ence with Iranian national Legislation and in­ter­national MCLs.

Table 4: The evaluation and comparison of results by Statistical methods

Parameter

Kolmogorov-Smirnov


P-Value

Paired t-test  (Parametric

One Sample t-test       (Para­metric)         P-Value

P-Value

95% Confidence interval of the difference

Lower

Upper

Fluoride

0.000

0.000

-0.11

0.23

0.609

Nitrate

0.000

0.015

-0.63

5.97

0.960

Magnesium

0.010

0.103

-10.99

-4.04

0.427

Chloride

0.000

0.000

-23.58

11.29

0.300

Sulfate

0.000

0.024

-25.08

7.53

0.217

Sodium

0.034

0.000

-13.14

2.78

0.221

Potassium

0.000

0.037

-0.32

0.58

0.066

TDS

0.000

0.026

-247.16

176.43

0.988

pH

0.022

0.547

0.35

0.74

0.030

Total Hardness

0.000

0.000

-438.15

-331.99

0.900

Calcium

0.000

0.000

-14.22

61.07

0.012

Alkalinity

0.000

0.012

-20.41

169.76

0.772

The average pH value for the Iranian bottled water samples was 8.0 and has a range of 7.1 to 8.7. The standard value for pH has a range of 6.5 to 8.5 based on The Iranian National Legislation and USEPA guideline and less than 8.0 based on the WHO guideline. About 40% of the samples had pH values higher than 8.0, however there was no sample with acidic pH.  The calcium values for our sam­ples were be­tween 0-202 mg/L. This range is compatible with the Iranian national Legisla­tion value for calcium (200 mg/L).

In a similar study on bottled-water samples in Kuwait, about 44% of samples had pH val­ues higher than 8.0, and 8% were slightly acidic (less than 7.0). They also showed a  range of calcium values between 1.8 and 103.3 mg/L (14). Turkish bottled water range value varied  from 6.36 to 7.1 for pH and from 16.8 to 179.8 mg/L for calcium, re­spectively (6). In Greek bottled water, pH val­ues were between 6.0 and 8.2. In this study  maximum values of calcium, sulfate and chloride were 486 mg/L, 118.7 mg/L and 100 mg/L, respectively (4). Sulfate, chlo­ride and calcium values of Greek bottled water were higher than Iranian bot­tled water. Twenty five brands of bottled waters consist­ing of both purified and spring types col­lected randomly from three different Ala­bama cities, USA, the selected water-quality con­stituents analyzed in water samples were pH, conductivity, alkalinity, chloride, nitrate, nitrite, sulfate, phosphate, total carbon (TC), inor­ganic carbon (IC) and total organic car­bon (TOC). The obtained results showed that no sample had pH>8.5, but seven bottled wa­ter brands ana­lyzed were acidic (pH<6.5). Most of the brands had TOC concentrations ex­ceeding 3 mg/L. The majority of the wa­ter-quality elements analyzed in this study, had a higher concentration in the spring wa­ter brands compared to the purified or dis­tilled brands (15). Bottled mineral waters (132 samples) of 19 different districts in It­aly were characterized in terms of physico-chemi­cal and chemical compositions and com­pared to the values reported on their la­bels by ap­plying proper statistical analysis. The mineral water parameters showed a wide variation range: the minimum pH value (5.68 for sample 103), and the maximum con­tent of sodium (746 mg/L for sample 119), potassium (250 mg/L), mag­nesium (151 mg/L for sample 125), chloride (329 mg/L for sample 120), sulfate, (1371 mg/L for sample 106), fluoride (8.40 mg/L for sam­ple 120) and aluminum (0.074 mg/L for sample 109) being noticeable (8).2It is well known that the composition of mineral water is affected by precipitation rate and geologi­cal substrates involved in water circulation.

Conclusively, the results showed that fluo­ride, nitrate, chloride, sulfate, sodium, potas­sium, TDS, total hardness, calcium and alkalin­ity had a statistically significant differ­ence with manu­facturer's labeling val­ues. In addition, pH and calcium had signifi­cant statistical difference with Iranian Na­tional Legislation and Interna­tional MCLs. Our results are important, not only for the very many Iranian people who drink bottled water but also for the health supervisory agen­cies such as Ministry of Health and In­sti­tute of Standards & Industrial Research of Iran (ISIRI) to have more effective con­trol on bottled water industry as well as to im­prove periodically in proposed standard val­ues.

Acknowledgements

We gratefully acknowledge financial support for this project from the Environmental Health Engineering Dept., Faculty of Health, Hamadan University of Medical Sciences. We also ap­preciate Ms F Nazemi for her kindly helps and effort. The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

References

  1. Calderon RL. The epidemiology of che­mical contaminants of drinking wa­ter. Food Chem Toxicol. 2000; 38: S13-20.
  2. Ferrier C. Bottled water: Understand­ing a social phenomenon. wwf. Al Fraij. 2001, p.34.
  3. Kokkinakis EN, Fragiadakis GA, Kok­kinaki AN. Monitoring microbiological quality of bottled water as suggested by HACCP methodology. Food Con­trol. 2007; 19: 957-61.
  4. Leivadara S, Nikolaou AD, Lekkas TD. Determination of organic com­pounds in bottled waters. Food Chemis­try. 2008; 108: 277-76.
  5. Venieri D, Vantarakis A, Komininou G, Papapetropoulou M. Microbiologi­cal eva­luation of bottled non-carbon­ated ("still") water from domestic brands in Greece. Int. J Food Micro­bio. 2006; 107: 68-72.
  6. Guler C. Evaluation of maximum con­taminant levels in Turkish bottled drink­ing waters utilizing parameters re­ported on manufacturer's labeling and govern­ment-issued production licenses. J Food Composition and Analysis. 2007; 20: 262-72.
  7. Ramalho R, Afonso A, Cunha J, Teixeira P. Survival characteristics of pathogens inoculated into bottled min­eral water. Food Control. 200l; 12: 311-16.
  8. Versari A, Parpinello GP, Galassi S. Chemo metric survey of Italian bottled mineral waters by means of their la­beled physico-chemical and chemical com­po­sition. J Food Composition and Analy­sis. 2002; 15: 251-64.
  9. Williams SP. Put the lid on bottled wa­ter. Newsweek.  2001; 61: pp. 34-38.
  10. Rosenberg FA. The microbiology of bot­tled water. J Clinical Microbiol­ogy. 2003; 25: 41-4.
  11. Pilat B. Water of high quality for house­hold conditions. Desalination. 2002; 153:  405-407.
  12. ISIRI. Quality standards of drinking water. Institute of Standards and Indus­trial Re­search of Iran. 1997.
  13. EEC. Council Directive 98/83/EC of 3 November 1998 on the quality of water intended for human consumption. 1998.
  14. Abd El Aleem MK, Al Ajmy H. Com­parative study of potable and mineral waters available in the State of Kuwait. Desalination. 1999; 123: 253-64.
  15. Ikem A, Odueyungbo S, Egiebor NO, Nyavor K. Chemical quality of bottled waters from three cities in eastern Ala­bama. Sci Total Environ. 2002; 285: 165-75.


JRHS Office:

School of Public Health, Hamadan University of Medical Sciences, Shaheed Fahmideh Ave. Hamadan, Islamic Republic of Iran

Postal code: 6517838695, PO box: 65175-4171

Tel: +98 81 38380292, Fax: +98 81 38380509

E-mail: jrhs@umsha.ac.ir