Bottled Water Quality Investigation: 10 Major Brands,
Bottled water contains disinfection byproducts,
fertilizer residue, and pain medication
Authors: Olga Naidenko, PhD, Senior Scientist; Nneka Leiba, MPH, Researcher; Renee Sharp, MS, Senior Scientist;
Jane Houlihan, MSCE, Vice President for Research
The bottled water industry promotes an image of purity, but comprehensive testing by the Environmental Working
Group (EWG) reveals a surprising array of chemical contaminants in every bottled water brand analyzed, including
toxic byproducts of chlorination in Walmart’s Sam’s Choice and Giant Supermarket's Acadia brands, at levels no
different than routinely found in tap water. Several Sam's Choice samples purchased in California exceeded legal
limits for bottled water contaminants in that state. Cancer-causing contaminants in bottled water purchased in 5 states
(North Carolina, California, Virginia, Delaware and Maryland) and the District of Columbia substantially exceeded the
voluntary standards established by the bottled water industry.
Unlike tap water, where consumers are provided with test results every year, the bottled water industry is not required
to disclose the results of any contaminant testing that it conducts. Instead, the industry hides behind the claim that
bottled water is held to the same safety standards as tap water. But with promotional campaigns saturated with
images of mountain springs, and prices 1,900 times the price of tap water, consumers are clearly led to believe that
they are buying a product that has been purified to a level beyond the water that comes out of the garden hose.
To the contrary, our tests strongly indicate that the purity of bottled water cannot be trusted. Given the industry's
refusal to make available data to support their claims of superiority, consumer confidence in the purity of bottled water
is simply not justified.
Laboratory tests conducted for EWG at one of the country’s leading water quality laboratories found that 10 popular
brands of bottled water, purchased from grocery stores and other retailers in 9 states and the District of Columbia,