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US finds high arsenic content in Whole Foods bottled water

Monday, June 24th 2019, 6:01 pm - High levels of arsenic in bottled water brands owned by Whole Foods and Keurig Dr. Pepper, according to an independent study by the Center for Environmental Health (CEH).

The organization says it has sent a legal notice to Whole Foods regarding its Starkey Water brand, and another to Keurig Dr. Pepper relating to its Penafiel mineral water. CEH says the levels of arsenic detected in the water is "above the level requiring a health warning under California’s consumer protection law Proposition 65."

The brands are largely distributed across the U.S. at major retailers.

“Consumers are being needlessly exposed to arsenic without their knowledge or consent,” Michael Green, Chief Executive Officer of CEH says in a statement.


“Customers typically purchase bottled water at exorbitantly high costs with the assumption that it is safer and healthier to drink than tap water, unaware that they are ingesting an extremely toxic metal linked to birth defects and cancer.”

Elevated levels of arsenic in drinking water have been linked to heart disease and diabetes, according to the American Heart Association. Exposure in children has been linked to lower IQ scores.

“There is no place for arsenic in bottled water,” CEH senior scientist at Caroline Cox says in a statement.

“Bottled water companies need to take the necessary steps to remove this toxic metal from their products, and retailers should stop selling them now. Until those conditions are met, we recommend consumers avoid purchasing Whole Foods’ Starkey and Dr. Pepper’s Penafiel.”



On Friday, Keurig Dr. Pepper announced a voluntary recall of Penafiel products in response to the CEH report.

"Consumers who have this product in their possession can return it to their retailer for a full refund," reads a statement on the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) website.

"The Company has notified retailers that it will work with them to remove the product from the market."


Arsenic is a natural element that can be found in traces in all living matter, according to the Government of Canada's website.

"For most Canadians, the primary source of exposure to arsenic is food, followed by drinking water, soil, and air," the website says.

"Drinking water would only be the major source of exposure for people living near a source of arsenic."

The Canadian government recognizes arsenic as a cancer-causing agent.

Data suggests Canadian drinking water generally contains 0.005 milligrams per liter or 0.005 parts per million (ppm), but concentrations may be higher in some areas.

In the U.S., the FDA's threshold for arsenic for drinking water is 10 parts per billion -- roughly double the amount found in Canadian drinking water.

Sources: CEH | FDA | American Heart Association | Government of Canada

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