When you pay premium prices, you expect a premium product — but that’s not necessarily the case with bottled water.
California nonprofit Center for Environmental Health has revealed that water bottle brands Peñafiel, owned by Keurig Dr. Pepper, and Starkey, owned by Whole Foods, contain levels of highly toxic arsenic that are above the legal limit.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency says long-term exposure to arsenic can lead to reproductive harm, circulatory and nervous system disorders and cancer. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also note an increased risk of diabetes and hypertension. Other symptoms of arsenic poisoning include stomach pain and nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, numbness, even paralysis or blindness.
“Customers typically purchase bottled water at exorbitantly high costs with the assumption that it is safer and healthier to drink than tap water, unaware that they are ingesting an extremely toxic metal linked to birth defects and cancer,” says Center for Environmental Health CEO Michael Green in a statement.
An earlier Consumer Reports study supports these new findings. The same brands were found to contain double the federal limit of arsenic. At that time, Peñafiel ceased operations for two weeks, with plans to improve its water quality. It has since resumed operation — and its water is sold at Target, Walmart and other retailers. Starkey is sold at Whole Foods stores.
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At this point, the Food and Drug Administration has not ordered a recall on either brand.
And it’s not just poisonous chemicals water bottles are carrying.
Earlier this month, an analysis of over 50 studies on microplastics by Australian researchers found that people are consuming around 5 grams of microplastics every week — about as much as a credit card. Bottled and tap water, researchers say, was the biggest source. A 2018 joint study on bottled brands specifically found that 94 percent of water on store shelves is contaminated with microplastic particles — which can enter the bloodstream and settle in your organs.
“The body is a very warm environment and that allows the leaching of these chemicals,” says Fredonia researcher Sherri Mason. “What are the effects that those are having? Those are questions that we’re still investigating.”