A comprehensive study carried out by the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) underlines what has been observed before - bottled 'mineral' water sold in India is not nearly as healthy as buyers imagine.
The packaged drinking water you buy is laden with harmful chemicals formed due to processes involved during treatment of the water before packaging, the BARC study says.
The research looked at samples from 18 different bottled-water companies in Mumbai, including 'Bisleri', which has almost become a generic word for Indian bottled water, as well as others like the PepsiCo-owned 'Kinley' and state-run 'Rail Neer', ubiquitous in long-distance trains.
Indians cannot get potable water from their taps, and are increasingly reliant on bottles (fully taxed and costing upward of Rs10 a litre) to save their families from diseases caused by the government's abysmal failure to provide potable water to the 'aam admi'.
But BARC underlines previous studies that show the water-bottling companies are merely digging deep wells to tap the country's ever-scarcer ground water resources; there is little refinement process involved.
The study said that drinking packaged water exposes people to an onslaught of harmful chemicals. The study sampled 5 bottles from each of the 18 companies and found out that 1 litre of packaged water contained 27 per cent more Bromate.
World Health Organisation (WHO) norms say only 4 mg of bromate is needed per litre of packaged water. Excess bromate could cause diseases like cancer, stomach infection and hair loss.
Dr G G Pandit, lead of the research team, said, ''These impurities are not present in raw water but are formed due to the process of ozonation used for treatment of water. For instance, bromate is formed during disinfection of water containing bromide with ozone.''
The US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has taken note of the BARC findings, according to reports.