The Worst Bottled Water Brands For Your Health

Many of us aim to drink more water in an effort to be healthy, but we often don't think about some of the potential drawbacks. For example, per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) make up a group of toxic chemicals that have been found in many common bottled water brands. PFAS chemicals are used during the manufacturing process of clothing, furniture, electrical wiring insulation, and even food packaging, to make them resistant to water, heat, oil, and grease (via U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). Unfortunately, when PFAS chemicals are used to manufacture food packaging, like water bottles, the chemicals can leach into water and contaminate it. 

A vast number of studies reported adverse health outcomes associated with higher rates of PFAS exposure, including increased cholesterol levels, lowered vaccine response in children, changes in liver enzymes, increased risk of high blood pressure or pre-eclampsia in pregnant women, decreased infant birth weights, and an increased risk of kidney or testicular cancer (via CDC). Animal studies have also shown adverse effects ranging from reproductive dysfunction, thyroid dysfunction, adverse immune system impacts, and injury to the liver.

Which brands have the most PFAS?

Toxicity levels and suggested exposure thresholds vary across regulating bodies, health experts, and consumer safety organizations, according to CNN. While no formal federal regulations exist for bottled water manufacturers, the federal government has set forth voluntary guidance for PFAS levels, suggesting they should be below 70 parts per trillion (PPT). However, some states have created their own regulations, setting the lower limit to 20 PPT. The International Bottled Water Association, on the other hand, suggests bottled water should have less than 5 PPT, while other health experts suggest the cutoff should be lower than 1 PPT (via Consumer Reports). 

A 2020 study conducted by Consumer Reports tested 47 bottled water brands to measure PFAS levels. Any bottled water brands with greater than 1 PPT were flagged. These brands included: Deer Park Natural Spring Water (1.21 PPT), Tourmaline Spring Sacred Living Water (4.64 PPT), Perrier Natural Sparkling Mineral Water (1.1 PPT), La Croix Natural Sparkling Water (1.16 PPT), Canada Dry Lemon Lime Sparkling Seltzer Water (1.24 PPT), Poland Spring Zesty Lime Sparkling Water (1.66 PPT), Bubly Blackberry Sparkling Water (2.24 PPT), Polar Natural Seltzer Water (6.41 PPT), and Topo Chico Natural Mineral Water (9.76 PPT). While PFAS exposure can occur elsewhere in our environment, reducing our exposure, especially daily exposures can help mitigate certain health risks for ourselves and our families.