Second Recent Investigation Finds High Arsenic Levels in Bottled Water

By Victor Westerkamp

Recently, tests conducted by the Center for Environmental Health, a California nonprofit organization, found high arsenic levels in two bottled water brands, Peñafiel, owned by Keurig, and Starkey produced by and sold at Whole Foods.

A separate investigation conducted by Consumer Reports and published in April also found arsenic levels higher than the federal limit in both brands of water, with Peñafiel containing nearly double the allowed limit of the substance.

For the investigation, Consumer Reports stated it “reviewed hundreds of public records and test reports from bottled water brands, and from various federal and state regulators.”

Consumer Reports established 11 of more than 130 bottled water brands that had detectable amounts of arsenic.

For example, three samples of Whole Foods’ Starkey brand ranged from 9.48 to 9.86 ppb, just under the FDA limit of 10 ppb, while three samples of Peñafiel contained arsenic levels much higher than the 10 ppb limit, with an average of 18.1 ppb.

Moreover, six popular bottled water brands had arsenic levels of 3 ppb or higher, including Crystal Geyser Alpine Spring Water, Crystal Creamery, EartH₂O, and Volvic.

Consumer Reports stated that regular overexposure to water with arsenic levels above 3 ppb over an extended period of time can increase one’s risk of cardiovascular disease, hormone disruption, cancer, organ damage,  and other diseases, as well as lower IQ in children.

Arsenic is a naturally occurring chemical and is often found in water supplies in low quantities. Federal regulations require all municipal water supplies to be regularly tested, but bottled water’s safety standards are less strict.

Toxic Metals Tied to Increased Heart Disease Risk

People with heavy exposure to arsenic, lead, cadmium or copper may be more likely to develop cardiovascular disease, a review of existing studies suggests.

While these elements occur naturally in the earth’s crust, certain metals can also appear at unsafe levels in drinking water, food, and air as a result of agricultural and industrial practices, mining, and smoking, the research team notes in the BMJ. Copper and lead, for example, can seep into drinking water from corroded pipes, while arsenic and cadmium can accumulate in groundwater due to runoff from factories and crop irrigation systems and are also found in cigarette smoke.

For the analysis, researchers examined data from 37 earlier studies with a total of almost 350,000 participants. Overall, about 13,000 people had heart attacks, bypass surgery, or other events related to heart disease, and about 4,200 had a stroke.

Compared to people with the lowest levels of arsenic exposure, those with the highest exposure were 30 percent more likely to develop cardiovascular disease. The highest levels of lead exposure were tied to a 43 percent higher risk, top levels of cadmium were linked to 33 percent higher risk, and the greatest level of copper exposure was associated with 81 percent higher risk.

The good news is, there are still a number of bottle water brands that report non-detectable or very low levels of arsenic, according to EatingWell. Those brands include:

Aquafina
Arrowhead
Dasani
Deer Park
Essentia
Evian
Fiji
Glaceau Smart Water
Ice Mountain
Kirkland (Costco)
Life WTR
Market Pantry (Target)
Nestlé Pure Life
Niagara
Poland Spring
Propel

Reuters contributed to this report.