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Pro-green body detects pesticide residues in bottled water

Our Bureau

NEW DELHI, Feb. 4

FOR all those guzzling water from one of the myriad bottled water products in the market,this could make your throat go dry!

A study conducted by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), a pro-green organisation, has put most of the big daddies of the Rs 1,000-crore bottledwater segment in the dock - for containing "a deadly cocktail of pesticide residues".

After analysing 17 brands of packaged drinking water in Delhi and 13 brands from Mumbai, the CSE lab found that most of the samples contained as much as five different pesticide residues, in levels far exceeding the standards specified as safe, Ms Sunita Narain, Director, CSE, told newspersons here on Tuesday.

From packaged drinking water to packaged natural mineral water and from "not-so-popular" Volga, Prime and Paras brands to the "top five brands"including Bisleri (a Parle Bisleri product), Bailley (from Parle Agro), Pure Life (Nestle), Aqua-fina (Pepsico) and Kinley (Coca-Cola) - all were put under the microscope by the CSE’s Pollution Monitoring Laboratory (PML). "The four most commonly found pesticide residues, in the water samples, were: lindane, DDT, malathion and chlorpyrifos," she said. This implied that the samples had enough poison to cause in the long-term cancer, liver and kidney damage, disorders of the nervous system, birth defects, and disruption of the immune system, she added.

Since packaged water came under the purview of the Bureau of Indian Standards (and the Prevention of Food Adulteration (PFA) Act, she said, "CSE used European Economic Commission norms because the standards set for pesticide residues by BIS and PFA are vague and undefined. It merely says ‘pesticide residues shall be below detectable limits’ for bottled drinking water, while it should be "absent for drinking water",she said.

The study found Delhi samples were more contaminated than Mumbai, "primarily because the source water used by the industry was relatively less contaminated," she said.

Majors defend

COCA-Cola spokesperson told Business Line that Kinley "more than met the standards as laid out by the Government. We maintain the highest standards of quality and the manufacturing process has a six-stage treatment process."

Pepsi officials said that Aquafina met WHO-prescribed standards and followed a stringent seven-step process of purification.

"No residual pesticide has ever been detected in Aquafina as per consistent tests done by NABL-accredited ISO 9001 national VIMTA Laboratories."

Bisleri's Mr Ramesh Chauhan was unavailable for comment.

Study findings

Delhi:

  • Top seller Bisleri was third from the bottom, with pesticide concentration levels 79 times higher than the stipulated limits.

    Kinley had concentration levels 14.6 times above the maximum permissible amounts.

  • Aquaplus — favoured by the Indian Railways — topped the dubious list, crossing the limit by 104 times.

    Mumbai:

  • Oxyrich topped with 16.7 times higher pesticide concentration levels than the prescribed standards.

  • Bisleri and Kinley fared better in the Mumbai samples - they were ranked seventh and fourth, respectively.

    (Source: CSE study)

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