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Some Bottled Water Brands Contain Contaminants

Posted: October 16, 2008

Tests on leading brands of bottled water turned up a variety of contaminants, including cancer-linked chemicals three times higher than California's health standard, according to a study released by an environmental advocacy group.

The findings challenge the popular impression—and marketing pitch—that bottled water is purer than tap water, the researchers say. However, all the brands met federal health standards for drinking water. And most of the detected contaminants are common in tap water, too.

Lab tests detected 38 chemicals in 10 brands, with an average of eight contaminants found in each kind of bottled water. Tests showed coliform bacteria, caffeine, the pain reliever acetaminophen, fertilizer, solvents, plastic-making chemicals and the radioactive element strontium.

The two-year study was done by the Washington-based Environmental Working Group, an organization founded by scientists that advocates stricter regulation. It bought bottled water in California, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland and Delaware.

Researchers tested one batch for each of 10 brands. Eight of those did not have troubling levels of contaminants. But two brands did, so more tests were done and those revealed chlorine byproducts above California's standard. The researchers identified those two brands as Sam's Choice sold by Wal-Mart and Acadia of Giant Food supermarkets.