Un­de­sir­able Sub­stances | Toxic/Heavy Met­als | Pes­ti­cide Residues | TDS | pH | Tur­bid­ity | Colour

Consumer Voice - - Comparative Test -

Un­de­sir­able Sub­stances

Apart from the toxic met­als and sub­stances, there are a few un­de­sir­able sub­stances that can make drink­ing wa­ter un­healthy/un­hy­gienic or ham­per its taste. All these un­de­sir­able sub­stances were tested as per the re­quire­ments of IS, and a hand­ful of brands con­tained some of these in neg­li­gi­ble quan­ti­ties. • All brands were found to be within the lim­its set by In­dian Stan­dard for these sub­stances: alu­minium, an­ionic sur­face-ac­tive agents, an­ti­mony, bar­ium, bo­rates, cop­per, iron, man­ganese, min­eral oil, ni­trite, phe­no­lic com­pounds, resid­ual chlo­rine, se­le­nium, sul­phide and zinc. • Ni­trate (as NO ): Ni­trate in drink­ing wa­ter 3 can be a max­i­mum of 45 mg/litre. Ex­cept for Aqua­fina, Kin­ley and More, all brands con­tained some amount of ni­trate, but it was well within the max­i­mum per­mis­si­ble limit.

• Flu­o­ride (as F): As per the na­tional stan­dard, the max­i­mum amount of flu­o­ride per­mis­si­ble in pack­aged drink­ing wa­ter is 1 mg/litre. All brands were found to be within the per­mis­si­ble limit.

• Sil­ver (as Ag): Lev­els of sil­ver up to 0.1 mg/litre can be tol­er­ated with­out risk to health. Sil­ver was not de­tected in any of the tested brands.

• Chlo­ride (as Cl): The max­i­mum per­mis­si­ble limit for chlo­ride is 200 mg/litre. Chlo­ride was well be­low the max­i­mum per­mis­si­ble limit in all tested brands. • Sul­phate (as SO ): The per­mis­si­ble limit for 4 sul­phate is 200 mg/litre. It was well be­low the

max­i­mum per­mis­si­ble limit in some of the brands, while in some it was not de­tected at all. Al­ka­lin­ity (as HCO ): Al­ka­lin­ity is not 3 con­sid­ered to be detri­men­tal to hu­mans, but is gen­er­ally as­so­ci­ated with hard­ness, high pH val­ues and ex­ces­sive dis­solved solids, all of which may be un­de­sir­able. HCO3 should not ex­ceed 200 mg per litre. All the brands were found well be­low the per­mis­si­ble limit for al­ka­lin­ity Cal­cium (as Ca) and Mag­ne­sium (as Mg): Cal­cium in wa­ter and cer­tain other min­er­als in wa­ter are healthy. Cal­cium-rich wa­ter has a higher pH and that is better than drink­ing acidic wa­ter. How­ever, cal­cium and mag­ne­sium are com­po­nents of per­ma­nent hard­ness, and thus are un­de­sir­able in drink­ing wa­ter. The amount of cal­cium should not ex­ceed 75 mg per litre, while mag­ne­sium should not be more than 30 mg per litre. In the tests, all brands were found to con­tain very slight amounts of cal­cium and mag­ne­sium

Sodium (as Na): Sodium is an es­sen­tial min­eral in our diet. It is com­monly found in the form of sodium chlo­ride (salt). Salt has no smell and it dis­solves eas­ily in wa­ter and gives wa­ter a salty taste at high lev­els. The amount of sodium should not ex­ceed 200 mg per litre. All the brands were found well within the max­i­mum per­mis­si­ble limit for sodium.

Toxic/Heavy Met­als

As per the na­tional stan­dard, the toxic sub­stances that should not be present in drink­ing wa­ter in­clude mer­cury, cad­mium, ar­senic, cyanide, lead, chromium and nickel. All the brands passed these tests as none of the said sub­stances was de­tected.

Pes­ti­cide Residues

Pes­ti­cide is a chem­i­cal or bi­o­log­i­cal agent (such as a virus, bac­terium, an­timi­cro­bial, or dis­in­fec­tant) that de­ters, in­ca­pac­i­tates, kills, or oth­er­wise dis­cour­ages pests. Pes­ti­cides may cause acute and de­layed health ef­fects in peo­ple who are ex­posed. Such ad­verse health ef­fects range from sim­ple ir­ri­ta­tion of the skin and eyes to more se­vere ef­fects like af­fect­ing the ner­vous sys­tem, mim­ick­ing hor­mones caus­ing re­pro­duc­tive prob­lems, and caus­ing cancer.

As per In­dian Stan­dard, the max­i­mum per­mis­si­ble limit is 0.0001 mg/litre for in­di­vid­ual pes­ti­cide and 0.0005 mg/litre for to­tal pes­ti­cide residues. All tested brands were within the re­quire­ment set by the na­tional stan­dard. Traces of 2,4-dichlorophe­noxy­acetic acid were found in four brands but these were well be­low the spec­i­fied limit.

To­tal Dis­solved Solids (TDS)

To­tal dis­solved solids are the amount of min­er­als, salts or met­als dis­solved in a given vol­ume of wa­ter. TDS is di­rectly re­lated to the pu­rity of potable wa­ter and the qual­ity of wa­ter pu­rifi­ca­tion sys­tems, and af­fects ev­ery­thing that con­sumes, lives in, or uses wa­ter, whether or­ganic or inor­ganic, whether for better or for worse. The stan­dard/reg­u­lar prac­tice of pack­aged drink­ing wa­ter in in­dus­try is to take the potable wa­ter from a reg­u­lar source (for ex­am­ple, ground­wa­ter or as per­mit­ted by the In­dian Stan­dard) and dem­iner­alise the wa­ter through the RO sys­tem and in the re­quired quan­tity to bal­ance the TDS level as per­mit­ted in the na­tional stan­dard.

As per In­dian Stan­dard, to­tal dis­solved solids in pack­aged drink­ing wa­ter shall be a max­i­mum 500 mg/ litre. • TDS in all brands was lower than the max­i­mum per­mis­si­ble limit. Rail Neer was found to con­tain the high­est quan­tity of TDS (126 mg/litre) and Aqua­fina the low­est (9 mg/litre). Con­sumer Voice

sug­gests that there be a lower-side limit for TDS – no TDS means there are no min­er­als as well. Wa­ter with ex­tremely low con­cen­tra­tions of TDS may also be un­ac­cept­able be­cause of its flat taste.


The pH level of your drink­ing wa­ter re­flects how acidic it is. pH stands for ‘po­ten­tial

hy­dro­gen’, re­fer­ring to the amount of hy­dro­gen mixed with the wa­ter. pH is mea­sured on a scale that runs from 0 to 14. A mea­sure­ment of seven is neu­tral, in­di­cat­ing there is no acid or al­ka­lin­ity. A mea­sure­ment be­low 7 in­di­cates pres­ence of acid and a mea­sure­ment above 7 in­di­cates al­ka­lin­ity. The nor­mal range for pH in pack­aged drink­ing wa­ter as per In­dian Stan­dard is be­tween 6.5 and 8.5. All the brands of pack­aged drink­ing wa­ter were within the spec­i­fied range for pH. Tur­bid­ity

Tur­bid­ity is a prin­ci­pal phys­i­cal char­ac­ter­is­tic of wa­ter. It is caused by sus­pended mat­ter or im­pu­ri­ties that in­ter­fere with the clar­ity of the wa­ter. These im­pu­ri­ties may in­clude clay, silt, finely di­vided inor­ganic and or­ganic mat­ter, and sol­u­ble coloured or­ganic com­pounds.

Tur­bid­ity in wa­ter shall not be more than 2 neph­elo­met­ric tur­bid­ity units (NTU). Tur­bid­ity was not de­tected in any of the brands. They were all free of sus­pended mat­ters and im­pu­ri­ties.

Colour (in hazen unit)

• Colour was not de­tected in any of the brands and they were all given full scores.


The sen­sory test was con­ducted in a re­puted lab by qual­i­fied and ex­pe­ri­enced mem­bers who were ca­pa­ble of judg­ing the sen­sory at­tributes of such prod­ucts. • Aqua­fina, Bail­ley, Royal Blue and A4X were not in­cluded in the sen­sory test for taste as they had failed the mi­cro­bi­o­log­i­cal test and could be un­safe to drink. • The re­main­ing eight brands scored equally well on

odour and taste pa­ram­e­ters.

FOR GEN­ERAL QUAL­I­TIES Mark­ing/La­belling

The bot­tle of pack­aged drink­ing wa­ter should be leg­i­bly marked with these de­tails: a) name of the prod­uct; b) name and ad­dress of pro­ces­sor; c) brand name, if any; d) batch or code num­ber; e) date of pro­cess­ing/pack­ag­ing; f) treat­ment of disinfection, if any; g) ‘best be­fore’ date; and h) manda­tory ISI mark , MRP, net vol­ume, FS­SAI li­cense num­ber and cus­tomer care de­tails. • All the brands were found to have the mark­ing/la­belling re­quire­ments and hence were given full scores. All the brands were marked with ISI mark. • The green dot (in­di­cat­ing veg­e­tar­ian sta­tus) is not a manda­tory re­quire­ment and some brands do not carry it.


The pack­ag­ing ma­te­rial of pack­aged drink­ing wa­ter should be of food-grade ma­te­rial and the cap of the bot­tle must not have any colour mi­gra­tion on the prod­uct. Ex­pert pan­el­lists judged the pack­ag­ing based on ease of use, han­dling and other re­lated pa­ram­e­ters, and rat­ings were given ac­cord­ingly. All the brands were in PET plas­tic bot­tle. Pack­ag­ing of all brands was found to be con­ve­nient and ac­cept­able.

Man­u­fac­tur­ers’ Com­ments

As a mat­ter of pol­icy, be­fore pub­li­ca­tion, the test re­sults of the brands are shared with their re­spec­tive man­u­fac­tur­ers/mar­keters invit­ing their views/ com­ments. We re­pro­duce here the com­ments of man­u­fac­tur­ers as well as our re­ply:

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