Unsafe Levels of Arsenic Found in Some Bottled Waters, According to Consumer Reports

By: Jillian Kramer

Plus, we identify the brands you may want to avoid—and those you can safely drink.

Your bottled water may be less safe than municipal tap water. According to a new Consumer Reports investigation, several of the most popular bottled water brands contain levels of arsenic that are hovering near the FDA's safety standard—and well above what's safe to drink regularly. (Be prepared to toss some water bottles after you learn more here.)

For its own investigation, Consumer Reports "reviewed hundreds of public records and test reports from bottled water brands, and from various federal and state regulators," it writes on its website. And the nonprofit discovered that 11 of more than 130 bottled water brands had detectable amounts of arsenic, some edging dangerously close to—or even above—the FDA's standard of 10 ppb. For example, three samples of Peñafiel—a mineral water manufactured by the Dr Pepper Snapple Group—contained "arsenic levels well above the 10-ppb limit, registering an average of 18.1 ppb," Consumer Reports writes.

Three samples of Whole Foods' water, branded Starkey, ranged from 9.48 to 9.86 ppb, just under the FDA limit.

However, Consumer Reports cites a body of research that shows regularly drinking water with arsenic levels at or above 3 ppb can cause health problems—and it found six popular bottled water brands with arsenic levels of 3 ppb or higher, including Crystal Geyser Alpine Spring Water, and Volvic, as well as regional brands Crystal Creamery and EartH₂O. Research shows that arsenic exposure over extended periods can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and other disease, as well as lower IQs in children.

Related: How Water and Health Are Connected

Arsenic is a naturally occurring metal, and is often found in water supplies. Federal regulations make sure all municipal water supplies are regularly tested and arsenic (or other harmful materials) are removed.

Unfortunately, Consumer Reports' independent investigation "shows that, unlike tap water, bottled water is regulated in a hodgepodge fashion," adding "some states have inconsistent arsenic guidelines in place for tap and bottled water, with stricter thresholds in place for tap than for bottled water," which can further confuse the issue.

While the FDA says that 10 ppb of arsenic is a safe level for consumption, New Jersey, for example, sets 5 ppb as its safety benchmark, writing that water with more arsenic should not be used for "drinking, cooking, mixing baby formula, or in other consumptive ways."

In short, if you're concerned about drinking water with arsenic, you may want to steer clear of the brands above, or drink water from the tap.

In good news, however, several bottle water brands report non-detectable levels of arsenic, or levels below 3 ppb. According to Consumer Reports, those brands include:

  • Aquafina
  • Arrowhead
  • Dasani
  • Deer Park
  • Essentia
  • Evian
  • Fiji
  • Glaceau Smart Water
  • Ice Mountain
  • Kirkland (Costco)
  • Life WTR
  • Market Pantry (Target)
  • Nestlé Pure Life
  • Niagara
  • Poland Spring
  • Propel

Related: 8 Water Facts and Questions Answered