Pesticides in bottled water


SOURCE : http://www.cseindia.org/node/532

Image taken from http://www.slh.wisc.edu/

One often finds unsuspecting people buying bottled water or packaged drinking water thinking its safe. Well think again. As the Centre for Science and Environment laboratory report found after analysing bottled water samples from Mumbai and Delhi these products can be far more lethal than one can imagine. The samples contained a deadly cocktail of pesticide residues. What is worse most of the samples contained as many as five different pesticide residues, in levels far exceeding the standards specified as safe for drinking water.

The quantities of toxins found in these samples was enough to in the long-term cause cancer, liver and kidney damage, disorders of the nervous system, birth defects, and disruption of the immune system. Pesticides do not kill immediately, but can cause irreparable health disorders as they accumulate in the body fat.

CSEs campaign bore fruit when the government in July 2003 decided to notify new norms for pesticide residues in bottled water. The norms state that pesticide residues considered individually should not be more than 0.0001 mg/litre while total pesticide residues were capped at not more than 0.0005 mg/litre.

How do pesticides get into water supplies?

Pesticides not taken up by plants, adsorbed by soils or broken down by sunlight, soil organisms or chemical reactions may ultimately reach groundwater sources of drinking water. This will depend upon the nature of the soil, depth to groundwater, chemical properties of the pesticide, and the amount and timing of precipitation or irrigation in an area. Usually the faster a pesticide moves through the ground, as with sandy soils and heavy rainfall or irrigation, the less filtration or breakdown. Heavier soils, combined with lower moisture levels and warmer temperatures, provide a greater opportunity for pesticides to break down before reaching groundwater.

The amount of a pesticide detected in well samples also relates to the kind of pesticide and the amount originally applied. Contamination problems can result from using high concentrations of water-soluble pesticides for a specific crop in a vulnerable area.

Pesticides are, of course, designed to be toxic for certain insects, animals, plants or fungi. But when used without regard to sight characteristics, such as adsorption capacity of the soil (“stickability”), solubility, climatic conditions, and irrigation patterns, a given pesticide can cause greater environmental problems than the damage the pest could cause. Aldicarb is an especially problematic pesticide due to its toxicity, slow breakdown rate, poor soil adsorption capacity and water solubility.

Once in groundwater, pesticides continue to break down, but usually much slower than in surface layers of soil. Groundwater carrying pesticides away from the original point of application can lead to contaminated well samples years later in a different location.

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2 Responses to Pesticides in bottled water

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