Pesticide residues in bottled water

July 03, 2010

Packaged drinking water or natural mineral water is everywhere. It is now available in pouches, cups, bottles and bulky transparent jars. It is sipped in clubs, malls and fitness centres; glugged after a walk, jog or trek; sold on railway platforms and bus terminals, or pressed through car windows during traffic jams. Stashed in paan-shops, vendor stalls, department stores and supermarkets, bottled water has made its way into offices, restaurants, hotels and cinemas. Turns out that bottled water, the fastest growing segment in the beverage industry, actually contains deadly pesticide residues. Here's the whole toxic truth

There was a time in the recently liberalised past when people didn't quite know how to refer to a new product called drinking water. They would say 'bottled water' and 'mineral water' to freely refer to one or the other kind of water, perhaps meaning the same one. It used to be confusing. People were not used to drinking water that had to be bought. People were getting used to paying money to drink water. Paying more money for their water than they did for milk everyday.

One often finds unsuspecting people buying bottled water or packaged drinking water thinking its safe. Well think again. As the Centre for Science and Environment laboratory report found after analysing bottled water samples from Mumbai and Delhi these products can be far more lethal than one can imagine. The samples contained a deadly cocktail of pesticide residues. What is worse most of the samples contained as many as five different pesticide residues, in levels far exceeding the standards specified as safe for drinking water.

The quantities of toxins found in these samples was enough to in the long term cause cancer, liver and kidney damage, disorders of the nervous system, birth defects, and disruption of the immune system. Pesticides do not kill immediately, but can cause irreparable health disorders as they accumulate in the body fat.

CSEs campaign bore fruit when the government in July 2003 decided to notify new norms for pesticide residues in bottled water. The norms state that pesticide residues considered individually should not be more than 0.0001 mg/litre while total pesticide residues were capped at not more than 0.0005 mg/litre.