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Ottawa: Is Bottled Water Safe?

By verda - Posted on 18 December 2006

Chemical from Plastic Bottles is Leaching into Bottled Water

On December 18th, world class geochemical researcher, Dr. William Shotyk, from the University of Heidelberg, Germany will release new results from his study into the leaching of a chemical called antimony (Sb) into bottled water. The lecture will take place at 7:15 PM in the Auditorium of the Ottawa Public Library (120 Metcalfe St.).

The six month study tested 132 brands of bottled water from 28 countries for antimony, a potentially toxic trace element with no known physiological function. The manufacture of PET (polyethylene terephthalate), a plastic popularly used in the production of water bottles, employs antimony trioxide as a catalyst. The antimony then leaches into the water contained in the bottle. 

Dr. Shotyk’s research has concluded that when bottled water is stored at room temperature for six months, many brands come very close to reaching the Japanese drinking water limit for antimony which is 2000 ppt (parts per trillion).  In comparison, the groundwater from Springwater and Tiny Townships in Simcoe County, southern Ontario, contain an average concentration of only 2 ppt of antimony.

According to Larry Wade of the Ottawa Water Study/Action Committee: “If people knew that after only six months of storage, a chemical that may be hazardous to human health could reach levels in this water unacceptable in countries like Japan, they would likely think twice about relying on bottled water.”

 “Not only is the healthiness of bottled water becoming an outdated myth but this research raises questions about whether Canadian drinking water standards are set too low when it comes to chemical allowances”, says Verda Cook, Campaigns Coordinator at the Polaris Institute.

Dixon Weir, Manager of the City of Ottawa's Drinking Water Services will also discuss the city's processing of municipal water.

The Polaris Institute is an organization that works with social movements in Canada and internationally to develop tools and strategies to facilitate democratic social change.