How Safe Is Bottled Water?

ByABC News
September 15, 2000, 10:14 AM

N E W   Y O R K, Sept. 15 -- Sniff before you sip, New Yorkers have been warned.

Six people have fallen ill here in recent weeks after drinking contaminated bottled water. So far, officials see no link among the cases, but are probing possible criminal tampering.

In a city where the pricey potables are toted around like fashion accessories, tales of bottled-water contamination are unsettling at best. Ad campaigns touting spring-fed or glacier-born H2O are winning over a population increasingly skeptical of taps and willing to shell out big bucks for what they consider a purer, tastier and safer drink.

And its not just in New York. Americans consumed 17 gallons of bottled water per capita in 1999 thats 4.6 billion gallons, according to the Beverage Marketing Corp. In 1998, we consumed 15.3 gallons per capita.But just how much safer is bottled water?

Regulated Enough?

With FBI agents at his side, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani on Wednesday revealed three poisoning incidents involving bottled water over the past six weeks. Two more water drinkers were stricken on Thursday and a July 2 incident was revealed today.

The incidents involved three different brands purchased at six different locations: One womans throat bled after she sipped Perrier at a Japanese restaurant. The culprit: a form of sodium hydroxide, a lye-type cleaning agent. A mans throat was burned with ammonia after he imbibed a bottle of Aqua Fina purchased at a midtown market. And an 18-month-old boy fell ill after drinking an ammonia-laced Poland Spring water his mom bought at a takeout restaurant.

On Thursday, a man complaining of a burning throat and nausea was treated at a hospital and released after drinking an Aqua Fina in the Bronx. In nearby Suffolk County on Long Island, another man was treated and released after drinking Poland Spring water purchased from a 7-Eleven convenience store. And a sixth incident occurred on July 2 in the suburb of New Rochelle. This one involved Poland Spring purchased at a pizzeria.