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 Table of Contents  
Year : 2013  |  Volume : 1  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 68-71

Evaluation of the chemical and microbial quality of bottled water distributed during disasters

1 Department of Environmental Health Engineering, Health Faculty, Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, Shiraz, Iran
2 Department of Environmental Health Engineering, Health Faculty Shahrekord University of Medical Sciences, Shahrekord, Iran

Date of Web Publication4-Mar-2014

Correspondence Address:
Hassan Hashemi
Lecturer, Department of Environmental Health Engineering, Health Faculty, Shahrekord University of Medical Sciences, Shahrekord
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/2347-9019.128114

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Aims: Since during natural disaster all infrastructures such as water distribution system are damaged, access to safe drinking water is one of the first priorities following a disaster. The main aim of this study was to determine the chemical and microbial quality of bottled water distributed during disaster and compare them with National Iranian Standards. Materials and Methods: The microbial parameters (total coliform, fecal coliform) and chemical parameters (total hardness, calcium, magnesium, nitrate, nitrite, iron and fluoride) were determined according to standard methods. Results: The results showed that there were no microbial contaminations in any of the six different brands of mineral water. The total coliform and fecal coliform in all of the samples was not found. However, for the chemical composition, the concentration of the studied compounds was lower than standard. The amount of fluoride in all water samples was lower than 0.5 ppm. The hardness of six brands of bottled water in Fars was relatively high (121-180) and there was no iron in any of the samples. Conclusions: According to the results, though there was no microbial and chemical contamination in the studied bottled waters, the amount of fluoride in all water samples was lower than 0.5 ppm that may cause dental caries. Chemical quantities measured in this study were different from the amount listed on the label on bottled water. Therefore, the administrators need more control on labeling bottled water.

Keywords: Bottled water, coliform, disaster, fluoride, microbial and chemical parameters, mineral water, nitrate, nitrite, sulfate, water hardness

How to cite this article:
Dehghani M, Hashemi H, Karamimanesh M. Evaluation of the chemical and microbial quality of bottled water distributed during disasters. Int J Health Syst Disaster Manage 2013;1:68-71

How to cite this URL:
Dehghani M, Hashemi H, Karamimanesh M. Evaluation of the chemical and microbial quality of bottled water distributed during disasters. Int J Health Syst Disaster Manage [serial online] 2013 [cited 2022 Aug 12];1:68-71. Available from: https://www.ijhsdm.org/text.asp?2013/1/2/68/128114

  Introduction Top

A disaster is a natural or man-made event that causes physical loss or damage, social and/or economic disruption and threatens people's lives either directly or indirectly.

Iran is located on the earthquake belt that is most affected from devastations of this natural disaster.

When a disaster occurs, existing water supply and sanitation systems can be overwhelmed with chemicals and microbial pollutants. [1]

After the disaster there was an urgent need for temporary water supply and sanitation facilities for internally displaced persons lived in temporary camps. [2]

Provision of emergency water supply involves collaboration and partnership between various levels of government. [3]

Treating of drinking water during an emergency is challenging due to inadequate access to infrastructure and variable water quality. [4]

Bottled water is suitable drinking water for survival supply due to the ease of access and transportation. Thus, monitoring of bottled water quality is necessary.

Pure water cannot be found in nature and it always has some amounts of minerals, suspended solids, and soluble gasses, which causes water to have different qualities in different places. Although, the existence of some minerals in the water is necessary for humans' health to function properly, the excessive amount of minerals endangers their life. Nowadays, we have encountered with the population growth, decreasing water resources and increasing water pollution. [5]

In recent years, people around the world tend to use bottled water because of the failures of water distribution system during disasters and the low quality of tap water due to the presence of hazardous chemical compounds. Therefore, the consumption rate of bottle water is increasing. Hence, the production of bottled water is increasing and it is estimated that in the U.S. more than 1384.4 million gallon per year of bottled water are produced each year. [6] Bottled water must meet the quality standards for drinking water according to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Many different countries have developed their own water quality standards. [7] According to the definition of the Standard Organization and Industrial Researches of Iran, mineral water is considered as the water which contains minerals and trace elements and it is directly obtained from springs or ground water. [8],[9] Due to the growing consumption of bottled water, having knowledge about the microbial as well as the chemical characteristic is very important and many studies have analyzed the bottled water to assure the water content. [10],[11],[12],[13] Contaminated water leads to prevalence of water-borne diseases. For instance, a research conducted on 17 different types of bottled water in Hamadan revealed that chlorine, sulfate, nitrate, magnesium and other measured chemical parameters were different from what was written on their labels. The results also showed that calcium and pH of the bottled waters were more than Iran's standard. [14] Another study was conducted on 13 kinds of bottled water in Kerman in 2009 and the result showed that 54% of the waters were hard or very hard with no microbial pollution. In addition, the amount of fluoride in all the samples was below the standard level, whereas chlorine and nitrate of 7% of the samples were above the standard level. [15] The results of a study performed by Saleh et al., (2008) on bottled water in Houston, Texas showed that, although, the volatile organic chemicals were less than the detection limit, bacterial pollution was found in 4 samples out of the 35 surveyed brands. [10] Besides, the study done by Nohelia Castrodel (2011) on bottled water in Mexico revealed that none of the samples had microbial pollution. [13] Bertoldi et al., (2011) carried out the most extensive research on 521 bottled water samples in 23 European countries and investigated 39 different parameters. The results indicated that nitrate and nitrite levels were above the standards of the European countries in 9% of the samples. [16]

Therefore, the main objective of this research is to determine the chemical and microbial qualities of different brands of bottled water that consumed during the emergencies and disasters.

  Material and Methods Top

Area of study

Fars is the fifth largest province of Iran and is located in southern Iran. The mountainous part of the province has a large number of natural springs. The source of most bottled water is in Sepidan.

Sampling method

To determine the microbial quality, ten regions were selected [Figure 1]. Seven different brands of bottled water were purchased on 10 different days from randomly selected supermarkets located in the regions under study. A total of 100 samples of each brand of the bottled water were transferred to the lab according to the standard method. The selected samples (7 first stages) were selected from the refrigerators in the supermarkets, whereas the rest of the samples were kept out of the store in ambient condition and exposed to sun light. To determine the chemical characteristics of bottled water, two samples of each brand with two different production dates were selected.
Figure 1: Regions of collection of different brands of bottled water samples from different parts shown on the map of shiraz

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Research method

In this study, the total coliform (TC) and fecal coliform (FC) were determined by 9221-B and 9921-E methods, respectively. [17] BGB (Brilliant Green Lactose Broth) and EC ( Escherichia More Details coli broth) medium were utilized for determination of TC and FC, respectively.

The titration method was used to determine the chemical characteristics of water samples such as the amount of total hardness, Ca and Mg. [18] In addition, the amount of nitrate, nitrite, sulfate, fluoride and iron were determined by the standard methods as 2530, 2610, 3450, 1960, and 2150, respectively using spectrophotometer DR4000. [18]

  Results Top

Microbial examination of the bottled water samples showed that the number for TC and FC were zero in all of the study samples. Chemical composition of the study samples is presented in [Table 1]. Comparison of the chemical composition in different brands of bottled water is presented in [Table 1]. [Figure 2] illustrates the total hardness and evaluates the bottled water in terms of the type of water hardness in Fars province. According to the ranking of water hardness, water with the hardness of 0-17, 18-60, 61-120, 121-180 and more than 180 mgL -1 as calcium carbonate are considered as soft, low hardness, medium hardness and very hard, respectively. [19] According to Iran's standard organization, the total hardness of 200 mgL -1 as calcium carbonate, was considered the desirable limit, whereas 500 mgL -1 as calcium carbonate was regarded the maximum allowable limit. [20] Based on the ranking, all the investigated bottled waters were within the desirable and maximum allowable limit. Thus, 58.3%, 25%, and 16.7% of the bottled water had the water hardness in the range of hard, medium and low hardness, respectively.
Figure 2: Comparison of hardness in different bottled water samples in fars province

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Table 1: Chemical composition of bottled water in Fars province

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According to Iranian Standard Drinking Water Specification 2002, the desirable limits of calcium and magnesium in drinking water are as 300 and 30 mgL -1 as calcium and magnesium concentration, respectively 19 and based on the standard, neither of the brands exceeded the limits. In addition, the desirable and maximum allowable limits of sulfate in drinking water are 250 and 400 mgL -1 , respectively. [20] According to the standard, all the bottled water samples were in the desirable limit. Moreover, Iranian standard for nitrate and nitrite is 50 and 3 mgL -1 as nitrate and nitrite concentration, respectively [17] and, all the samples of bottled water were within the standard limit. The desirable limit of iron is 0.3 mgL -1 , as iron concentration, [20] and the amount of iron in all the bottled water samples was less than the desirable limit. The standards for the minimum and maximum fluoride concentration in drinking water are 0.5 and 1.5 mgL -1 , respectively. According to the standard, only one of the brands of bottled water investigated in the study (8.3%) had the minimum concentration of fluoride (0.5 mgL -1 ) and the rest (6 brands) did not have this minimum requirement (91.7%). The statistical analyses showed there is a significant difference between the data obtained in the study and the amount shown on the labels (P < 0.05).

  Discussion and conclusion Top

Natural disasters such as earthquake can considerably increase microbial contamination of water resources.

One of the major aims in emergency response is to provide safe drinking water that is critical for the survival of the population. In the other hand, water supply problems arise in all phases of the disaster-management cycle. As with all the other elements of emergency management, water supplies can be designed and maintained in ways that help to reduce the health impacts of disasters.

The results of the present study revealed that microbial contamination did not exist in any of the seven brands of the bottled water samples under study. Although, investigations in Kerman (2009) and Mexico (2011) showed that none of the bottled water samples had microbial contamination; 4 out of 35 brands of the bottled water samples in Houston, Texas showed bacterial contamination. [13],[15],[10] Therefore, it is very essential to check the biological parameters of the bottled water regularly to prevent the growth of pathogen bacteria.

Despite the fact that these results showed that all of the chemical parameters of the water samples in the present study were in the desirable limit according to Iran's standard, the amount of fluoride in 90% of water samples was less than 0.5 mgL -1 . The same results were obtained in the study of Samadi and his colleagues in Kerman (2009). These results demonstrated that concentrations of fluoride in many water resources in Iran are not adequate to prevent dental caries in children. In addition, the concentration of chloride, nitrate, nitrite and sulfate in all of the water samples were within the standard range, but the amount of iron was less than the desirable rate. An extensive survey conducted on 571 types of bottled water in 23 European countries showed that in 9% of the brands of bottled water the amount of nitrate and nitrite were higher than the local standards. [16]

Fifty eight percent (58.3%) of the bottled water samples were in the category of hard waters. The results also showed that the amounts of calcium and magnesium hardness in all water samples were not higher than Iranian standard. The results of bottled water in Kerman also showed that 54% of the water samples were in the category of hard to very hard and this similarity could be due to the fact that Fars and Kerman are two adjacent provinces.

In conclusion, the biological and chemical characteristics of bottled waters in Fars Province are in the standard limit and with an exception, most of the bottled water samples had a less than desirable fluoride limit which can increase dental caries in children. Generally, the bottled water labels are not in consistent with the results obtained in the current study. Therefore, authorities should be more careful placing these labels and it is very essential to do further tests in a regularly schedule.

  References Top

1.Fournier C. Re-establishing clean water in a disaster. Nephrol News Issues 2011;25:28-9,34.  Back to cited text no. 1
2.Fernandoa WB, Gunapalab AH, Jayantha WA. Water supply and sanitation needs in a disaster: Lessons learned through the tsunami disaster in Sri Lanka. Desalination 2009:248:14-21.  Back to cited text no. 2
3.EPA. Planning for an Emergency Drinking Water Supply 600/R-11/054, June 2011. Available from: http://www.epa.gov/ord">http://www.epa.gov/ord. [Last accessed on 2011 Jan 14].  Back to cited text no. 3
4.Loo SL, Fane AG, Krantz WB, Lim T. Emergency water supply: A review of potential technologies and selection criteria. Water Res 2012;46:3125-51.  Back to cited text no. 4
5.Cuneyt G. Evaluation of maximum contaminant levels in Turkish bottled drinking water utilizing parameters reported on manufacturers labeling and government-issues production licenses. J Food Compost Anal 2007;20:262-72.  Back to cited text no. 5
6.Bitton G. Wastewater Microbiology. 3 th ed. Florida: John Wiley and Sons Inc; ISBN 0-471-65071-4: 397-9.  Back to cited text no. 6
7.Salvato JA, Nelson L, Nemerow, Franklin J. Agardy. Environmental Engineering and Sanitation. 5 th ed. New Jersey: John Wiley and sons Inc; 2003.  Back to cited text no. 7
8.Ghafouri MR. Mineral water and mineral spring in Iran. Tehran University; 2003 [In Persian], pp: 17-20.  Back to cited text no. 8
9.Institute of Standards and Industrial Research of Iran. Natural mineral water-specifications. Isiri Number 2441. 1 st Revision; 1993. http://doc.isiri.org.ir/.  Back to cited text no. 9
10.Saleh MA, Abdel-Rahman FH, Woodard BB, Clark S, Wallace C, Aboaba A, et al. Chemical, microbial and physical evaluation of commercial bottled waters in greater Houston area of Texas. J Environ Sci Health A Tox Hazard Subst Environ Eng 2008;43:335-47.  Back to cited text no. 10
11.Azlan A, Khoo HE, Idris MA, Ismail A, Razman MR. Evaluation of minerals content of drinking water in Malaysia. ScientificWorldJournal 2012;2012:403574.  Back to cited text no. 11
12.Viessman W Jr, Hammer MJ, Perez EM, Chadik PA. Water Supply and Pollution Control. 8 th ed. Upper Saddle River and New Jersey: Prentice Hall Publication; 2008. pp: 550-5, ISBN-13: 978-0321014603.  Back to cited text no. 12
13.Castrodel NC, Chaidez CQ. Bacteriological quality of bottled water in Mexico. Water Conditioning and Purification. Oct 2011:53:34-9.   Back to cited text no. 13
14.Samadi M, Rahmani A, Sedehi M, Sonboli N. Evaluation of chemical quality in 17 brands of iranian bottled waters. J Res Health Sci 2009;9:25-31.  Back to cited text no. 14
15.Loloei M, Zolala F. Survey on the quality of mineral bottled waters in Kerman city in 2009. J Rafsanjan Univ Med Sci 2011;10:183-92.  Back to cited text no. 15
16.Bertoldi D, Bontempo L, Larcher R, Nicolini G, Voerkelius S, Lorenz GD, et al. Survey of the chemical composition of 571 European bottled mineral waters. J Food Compost Anal 2011;24:376-85.  Back to cited text no. 16
17.American Public Health Association. American Water Works Association and Water Pollution Control Federation. Standard Methods for the Examination of Water and Wastewater. 21 st ed. APHA-AWWA-WPCF Washington DC; 2005. p:129.  Back to cited text no. 17
18.Institute of Standards and Industrial Research of Iran. ISIRI NUMBER 8652. Water quality- Determination of the sum of calcium and magnesium- EDTA titrimetric method. 1 st Revision; 2002. http://doc.isiri.org.ir/.  Back to cited text no. 18
19.EPA United States Environmental Protection Agency Overview of contamination and their potential health effects. Edition of the drinking water standard and health Advisors. 2006. http://water.epa.gov.  Back to cited text no. 19
20.Institute of Standards and Industrial Research of Iran. ISIRI NUMBER 6694. Water - Packaged (bottled) drinking waters - Specifications. 1 st Revision; 2002. http:// doc.isiri.org.ir/.  Back to cited text no. 20


  [Figure 1], [Figure 2]

  [Table 1]


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