Sunday, February 17, 2019

Water quality standards for bottled water?

Dear Chen Ko,

I am Bob searching for information about safe drinking water qualities from internet.

The web  bring me to your blog and found that you are knowledgeable about drinking water.

I am writing to ask you about safe drinking water qualities from bottled water dispenser.

Please look at the 2 photos carefully. This water dispenser is located in our working office.

Can you please advise what are the safe allowable TDS, pH values and other controlled parameters

for this bottled water dispenser as regulated locally or by international association?

Thank you for your helps.

Best regards,

Hi Bob,

I must confess that bottled water is not my favourite type of drinking water. Overall expensive and water of questionable quality, this is not my first choice for the office. If you absolutely need a hot/cold water dispenser, one incorporating reliable water filtration of tap water will be more economical. Singapore tap water is already quite good to start. Add in a good water filtration system and it should satisfy most people who have concerns about drinking tap water. And you do not need to call the vendor regular to resupply the bottles. Just change the water filters as instructed and all should be fine.

But back to your questions... TDS (total dissolved solids) and pH are not contaminants by themselves so these 2 parameters are not within WHO drinking water guidelines. (pH is regulated by PUB though for other reasons rather than water safety.)

In Singapore, bottled water is regulated by AVA, not PUB. (See previous post for a more comprehensive view of bottled water regulation in the world.) You can find the list of water quality parameters and requirements under AVA here. If you bother to count, the number of parameters comes up to about 30, a far cry from the ~ 200 within WHO drinking water guidelines. This essentially means that bottled water is much less tightly regulated in SG compared to tap water.

Don't get me wrong, bottled water does have its place in supplying drinking water. Especially in the early phase of an emergency/disaster, it is invaluable in providing drinking water for the beneficiaries affected by the emergency/disaster. Of course, they have little choice in the matter. If you have other choices for your drinking water, bottled water should not be the first.

Figure: A typical hot/cold/warm water dispenser linked to the water mains and incorporating water filtration


Bob Quek said...

Dear Chen Ko,
You are right. I have checked the bottled water qualities in our office. The TDS is approximately 80 ppm and pH is between 6 to 6.5. I purposely bought a handheld TDS meter and litmus papers from Aliexpress last month. The reasons of finding out how safe is the bottled drinking water were because : (1) I had diahorrea twice after drinking the "hot" water to make coffee in the morning. ("hot" not = boiling) 1st incident happened once in Sept 2018 when our old office was in Ubi. The 2nd time happened after we relocated our office in Dec 2018 to Paya Lebar. The same dispenser is used. (2) I do not have diahorrea history. The doctors from 2 different clinics requested me to have colon tests due my age of 53. I had blood tests and stool tests. Overall medical results are normal. (3) The labels on the plastic bottles claimed that the water is "oxygenated pure drinking water". It is telling the public that the water is as good and as near to RO water qualities. (4) I have bring up this issue to our office clerk who made the orders and my superior but they seem uninterested. All these reasons prompted me to do research about safe drinking water. I even told my superior and the clerk that the company is paying the price of "1st class water" but we drinking the supplied water similar to tap water and I got diahorrea. I also checked the tap water TDS of 85 ppm and pH of 8. It does not make sense to me. They would not want to listen whenever I talked about this topic.

Chen Ko, do you have any idea or suggestion which authority to seek address of this problem? You mentioned that AVA is regulating the sale of bottled drinking water but does AVA look into the problem? Thank you.

CK said...

Dear Bob,

Bottled water is under the purview of AVA so yes, I believe they have a duty to investigate issues related to bottled water.

Having said that, I also personally found that some water dispensers themselves (not including the bottled water) woefully lack care and maintenance. Perhaps you can first check whether the dispenser is clean at the part it is connected to the water bottle and all the way to the spigots.


matsalexy said...

Nice blog thanks for sharing such a great information.purity is must for drinkng waters but we buy waterfilters only for drinking purpose but in the refrigerators also some times the water is impure so you must buy waterfilters for fridges.