Bottled water is a multi-billion dollar industry in the United States with Americans drinking more of it than any other beverage.
But a new report from Consumer Reports has found that there may be more than just water in some of the bottles. A test of 47 types of bottled water found “toxic PFAS chemicals” in several popular brands, including Deer Park Natural Spring Water, LaCroix Natural Sparkling Water, Perrier Natural Sparkling Mineral Water, and Topo Chico Natural Mineral Water.
The test looked for 30 PFAS chemicals, as well as arsenic, lead, mercury, and cadmium.
James Rogers, director of food safety research and testing for Consumer Reports, told Today that “these chemicals are called forever chemicals because the way that they are put together, it’s hard for them to be broken down.”
Rogers said that because “they last very, very long” they are “advocating to both the FDA and the EPA that they look at putting a mandatory standard for PFAS for all water that consumers would drink.”
PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are man-made chemicals found in many products. Resistant to oil, water, heat, and grease, they can be found in things like paint and nonstick cookware.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says that they can accumulate in the human body over time, something that “may cause serious health conditions.”
Though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention note that the human health effects from exposure to low levels of PFAs are unknown, large amounts of PFAS in lab animals have been known to cause birth defects and cancer.
The EPA advises a voluntary guidance of a level lower than 70 parts per trillion for PFAS, while the International Bottled Water Association has a standard of 5 parts per trillion for one PFAS chemical and 10 parts per trillion for more than one.
Consumer Reports set the standards for its investigation at 1 part per trillion.
The International Bottled Water Association responded to the study, saying that “the testing method used by Consumer Reports cannot accurately and reliably detect the amount of PFAS in bottled water. As a result, their reporting on this issue is misleading and will unnecessarily frighten consumers.”