Are Mineral Waters Really Safe?

Li Yuqun

PureInsight | June 24, 2002

Mineral waters are very popular today due to their presumed purity. However, Swiss scientists recently discovered that certain brands of mineral water were contaminated with a fecal virus.

According to a MSNBC report on April 8, 2002, 11 out of 29 European brands of mineral water were found to be contaminated with Norwalk-like virus (NLV), which is responsible for in more than 90% of the world’s stomach upsets. A Swiss scientist who worked on this study stated, “We didn'$t believe the results at first, so we got them independently confirmed by a private Swiss lab. We think human feces are sporadically contaminating the water either at the source or some time during the bottling procedure.”

The scientists do not know whether or not the water poses a health risk. Evidence from unpublished data suggests that low levels of the virus in mineral water may lead to gastroenteritis in the elderly.

Barry Vipond of the Public Health Laboratory in Bristol, UK expressed his concern, “Current views are that you only need a very low level - in the range they found - of active virus for it to be infectious.” However, he pointed out that the test used to determine the contamination, the RT-PCR, is itself prone to contamination. Mineral water companies view the test as unsuitable to detect low levels of viral contamination.

Nine out of ten bottles of contaminated mineral water were found to contain the virus one year later. Tamie Ando, who studies viral gastroenteritis at the National Center for Infectious Diseases in Atlanta remarked, “Although we don't know whether the strains found in the mineral water are dangerous, the work is very important because we need to learn how our environment has been contaminated by these viruses.”

Despite scientific advances, the insatiable desire for material wealth is exploding, and the environment continues to deteriorate. Clean air, water and soil constitute the environment given to us by the Universe. Every newborn baby knows how to breathe. When we are thirsty, we just drink some water. Fertile soil can be used to grow vegetables. However, these natural things are becoming scarcer in today’s world. Human beings are in a very dangerous situation when the basic life-sustaining essentials such as air, water and soil are becoming polluted. We have seen people using oxygen masks during especially bad periods of smog or during sandstorms. Residents of some large cities have start relying on spring waters due to water pollution, but contaminated viruses from human feces may be found in them. Shouldn’t we wake up?

Add new comment