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Arsenic found in nearly a dozen brands of bottled water, so what does it mean?

Consumer Reports is raising alarms about their recent study of more than 100 brands of bottled water. During their in-depth study they found 11 brands of bottled water contained “detectable arsenic levels” and half of dozen of the brands had arsenic levels measuring “3 parts per billion or more”.

Just a quick refresher on arsenic. Arsenic is “a natural component of the earth’s crust and is widely distributed throughout the environment in the air, water, and land.” That description comes straight from the World Health Organization. Arsenic poisoning can lead to cancer, liver disease, coma, and even death. It should go without saying that on the surface, the results of the Consumer Reports study are worrisome. So what were the brands that measured more than 3 ppb? Well some names you may recognize, and others you likely won’t.


The brands were:

Whole Foods' Starkey brand
Keurig Dr Pepper's Peñafiel
Crystal Geyser Alpine Spring Water
Danone's Volvic
Crystal Creamery
EartH2O regional brands


Opinions on what exactly these findings mean for consumers are split. Critics of the study cite that the federal standard for arsenic levels in drinking water is 10 ppb, and the results of this study fall well below that. Alan Schwarz over at thinks the study is mostly overblown. As Mr. Schwarz explains it, the real story is that consumer Reports tested 130 brands of bottled water, and only one had highly detectable levels of arsenic, Peñafiel. As Schwarz points out, “if you mixed all the bottled water in the world in a massive vat, Peñafiel would probably make up less than 3 parts per billion itself.”

For their part, Consumer Reports believes their own research shows anything above 3 ppb is “potentially dangerous to drink over extended periods of time.” In the article posted on their website, Consumer Reports is asking for “a full recall and tougher federal standards”. So far, none of the brands have agreed to a “full recall”. In fact, only one has really taken any action, Keurig Dr. Pepper. They conducted their own studies on Peñafiel and according to “found arsenic levels of 17 ppb. As a result, they’ve suspended production at their Mexican bottling plant for two weeks, and will strive to improve their filtration.

So Consumer Reports says the sky is falling, and arsenic levels in bottled water are rising, but others aren’t sure. Actually, they’re pretty convinced this study is much to do about nothing. So where does this leave us? Consumer Reports found what they consider dangerous levels of arsenic in bottled water, but the levels are below the national standards. Some of the brands cited in the study took action, others have not, and don’t appear ready to do so. Unfortunately, this appears to be another case of more research and work needing to be done. We’ll be sure to keep you updated on any response from the federal government or the brands named in the study.

For a deep dive into Food Dive’s post, click here:

To read the complete article and study by Consumer Reports, follow this link:

And to read the rebuttal by Alan Schwarz over at, click here: