Consumer Reports investigation finds ‘potentially dangerous’ amounts of arsenic in 6 brands of bottled water, including one from Whole Foods

  • Consumer Reports released the results of an investigation into arsenic levels in bottled water on Thursday.
  • The federal limit for the levels of arsenic found in bottled water is 10 parts per billion (ppb), but CR noted that current research indicates that water can be dangerous to ingest over time if it has as much as 3 ppb of arsenic in it.
  • CR’s investigation found the Mexican bottled-water brand Peñafiel contained arsenic levels that exceeded the federal limit, and five others with arsenic levels at 3 ppd or higher – including Whole Foods’ brand of water.
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Whole Foods’ bottled-water brand, Starkey Water, has arsenic levels in it high enough to cause damage if ingested regularly, according to a new investigation conducted by Consumer Reports.

Arsenic is a naturally occurring element of the Earth’s crust that gets distributed throughout the environment in the air, water, and land, according to the World Health Organization. Dangerous amounts of arsenic can be found in some water sources, and can cause problems like skin lesions and cancer. But companies can remove arsenic from water before distribution.

Despite the existence of technology that can reduce arsenic levels, CR found that 11 of the more than 130 bottled-water brands it surveyed contained detectable amounts of arsenic.

The interior of a Whole Foods grocery store is seen in Dublin. California in June 2017.

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The interior of a Whole Foods grocery store is seen in Dublin. California in June 2017.
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Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

The federal limit for the levels of arsenic found in bottled water is 10 parts per billion, but CR said current research suggests arsenic can be “potentially dangerous” if regularly ingested at levels of 3 ppb.

CR said six brands either self-reported, or were found through its own testing, to have arsenic levels at or above 3 ppb. Those brands include:

  • Peñafiel (the company reported it found an average arsenic level of 17 ppb)
  • The Whole Foods’ brand of water, Starkey (9.8 ppb)
  • Crystal Creamery (5 ppb)
  • Volvic (4 ppb)
  • Crystal Geyser Alpine Spring Water (3.8 ppb)
  • EarthH20 (3 ppb)

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One of the brands CR tested, Peñafiel, surpassed the federal limit, averaging an arsenic level of 18.1 parts per billion when CR tested three bottles of its water.

Peñafiel’s parent company, Keurig Dr Pepper, told CR it was suspending production at its Mexican facility while the company improves filtration, but are not planning to recall bottles currently on the market.

As for Whole Foods, the grocery chain issued a statement to CR saying the company conducted an internal analysis of its water and said the tests “show these products are fully compliant with FDA standards for heavy metals.” The chain added that it tests “every production run of water before it is sold.”

“We would never sell products that do not meet FDA requirements,” the company said.

Business Insider previously reported that for most Americans, research suggests water in a bottle is not better than the stuff from your tap. In fact, one report found that almost half of all bottled water is derived from the tap, though it may be further processed or tested.

See the full investigation from Consumer Reports »