If You Are Going To Drink Bottled Water, Your Best Choice Is Distilled, Not Spring

New Study Finds PFAS In Bottled Water, As Lawmakers Call For Federal Limits, Consumer Reports, 17 June 2021

‘Purified’ bottled water was less likely than ‘spring’ water to contain the potentially dangerous compounds.

The study, published in the journal Water Research and led by Johns Hopkins University researchers, detected PFAS substances in 39 out of more than 100 bottled waters tested, in some cases at levels deemed concerning by water quality experts.

PFAS is short for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, a chemical class that includes approximately 5,000 compounds that have been linked to cancer and learning delays in children. Used in numerous consumer products, the compounds are known as “forever chemicals” because the bonds that hold PFAS together don’t break down easily in the environment.

Unconscionably, there are currently no set federal limits on these harmful chemicals in bottled water, despite their severe health risks,” [Senator] Blumenthal tells Consumer Reports, adding that the “findings of this report redouble my determination to ensure bottled water is safe.”

Here’s the study that Consumer Reports cited:

Detection of ultrashort-chain and other per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in U.S. bottled water, Water Research, August 2021


  • First large-scale peer-reviewed investigation of PFAS in U.S. bottled water.
  • PFAS were detected in 39/101 uniquely labelled bottled water products.
  • Ultrashort-chain perfluoropropanoic acid (PFPrA) comprised 42% of detected PFAS mass. [“Ultrashort-chain PFAS appear to be highly mobile, especially in water; persistent in the environment; and toxic.” Consumer Reports Senior Scientist Michael Hansen]
  • Reverse osmosis-treated water contained less PFAS than other bottled water products.

This study investigated the occurrence of PFAS and related factors in 101 uniquely labelled bottled water products for sale in the U.S. Products were screened for 32 target PFAS.

Ultrashort-chain PFPrA, measured for the first time in bottled water, accounted for the greatest individual fraction of detected PFAS mass (42%) and was found almost exclusively in products labeled as Spring water.

Purified water products contained significantly less PFAS than Spring water products, which was attributed to the use of reverse osmosis (RO) treatment in the majority of Purified waters (25/35) compared to Spring waters (1/45). RO-treated products contained significantly lower Σ32PFAS, long-chain, short-chain, and PFPrA concentrations than products without RO.

Although no enforceable PFAS regulations exist for bottled water in the U.S., the finding that some products approach levels of concern justify a framework for monitoring PFAS in bottled water production.

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