Drinking water quality is deteriorating continuously due to biological contamination from chemical pollutants from industries, human waste and agricultural inputs. In Pakistan, Piped water also gets contaminated because pipes are spread very close to sewerage lines and cause many serious waterborne diseases. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) 26-30% of the diseases are gastrointestinal in nature. A recent study revealed that 45% of infant deaths in Pakistan are caused by diarrhea while nearly 60% are linked to various infectious waterborne diseases. This inferior quality of drinking water has forced a large cross-section of Pakistani citizens to buy bottled water. In the last 5 years, the country’s bottled water industry has grown rapidly due to its increasing demand in big cities. However, many of the mineral water companies were found selling contaminated water in Pakistan.

To monitor and improve the quality of bottled water, the government of Pakistan has designated the PCRWR as the focal point agency. Pakistan Council for Research in Water Resources (PCRWR) declared that 19 bottled and mineral water brands are unsafe for human consumption due to chemical contamination or microbiological. The government of Pakistan has directed PCRWR to monitor bottled and mineral water brands quarterly and publicize its results to raise public awareness nationwide. In this thorough article, our Tashheer research team explained which water brand is not good for drinking in Pakistan.

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Collection and Analysis of Samples

Samples of commercially available brands of bottled mineral water were collected from local markets in twenty-two cities across Pakistan. Senior staff members from PCRWR’s National Water Quality Laboratory (NWQL) and regional/district Water Quality Laboratories collected these samples. Four bottles of each brand were collected and sealed on-site and identification codes were assigned to each brand according to PCRWR’s Bottled Water Classification System.
Cities Targeted: 22 (Islamabad, Rawalpindi, D.G. Khan, Multan, Sargodha, Sahiwal, Faisalabad, Quetta, Tando Jam, Gujranwala, Badin, Sialkot, D.I. Khan, Bahawalpur, Karachi, Lahore, Mianwali, Peshawar, Muzaffarabad, Gilgit, Loralai, and Sukkur)
Total Brands Collected: 185

One Research Officer and one Laboratory Assistant from PCRWR, along with a senior staff member and field officer from PSQCA, as per the MoU signed between PCRWR and PSQCA.

Sample 1

Handed over to the shopkeeper at the time of collection.

Sample 2

Preserved in PCRWR’s National Water Quality Laboratory in Islamabad for future reference.

Sample 3

Used for microbiological analysis.

Sample 4

Used for physico-chemical analysis.

Water quality parameters are important indicators for checking the safety and suitability of water for various purposes including drinking, irrigation, and industrial processes. Analyzing these parameters requires precise methods to ensure accurate results. Here is the list of all the important parameters that PCRWR used according to PSQCA Standards to check the quality of bottled water. The Government of Pakistan launched the Pakistan Standards and Quality Control Authority (PSQCA) by Act-VI of 1996 to provide one-stop services for Standardization and Conformity Assessment.

Here is the list of water quality parameters and methods used for analyzing these bottled water samples, listed as:

ParametersAnalytical Method
Alkalinity (mg/l as CaCO3)2320-B, Titration Method (APHA-23rd edition)
Arsenic (ppb)AAS Vario 6, Analytik Jena AG
Calcium (mg/l)3500-Ca, EDTA Titrimetric method (APHA-23rd edition)
Carbonate (mg/l)2320-B, Titration Method (APHA-23rd edition)
Chloride (mg/l)4500-cl, Argentometric method (APHA-23rd edition)
Color (TCU)Sensory Test
Conductivity ( S/cm)E.C meter, BANTE-890, 2510-B (APHA-23rd edition)
Hardness (mg/l)2340-C, EDTA Titrimetric method (APHA-23rd edition)
Magnesium (mg/l)3500-Mg (Calculation Method), APHA-23rd edition
Nitrate Nitrogen (mg/l)4500-NO3-B UV-Spectrophotometric method
OdorSensory Test
pHpH Meter, Hanna Instrument, Model 8519, Italy
Potassium (mg/l)3500-K, (APHA-23rd edition)
Sodium (mg/l)3500-Na, (APHA-23rd edition)
Sulfate (mg/l)4500- SO 2−4 (Turbidetric Method) , (APHA-23rd edition)
Phosphate (mg/l)8190 and 8048 (Hach)
TasteSensory Test
TDS (mg/l)E.C meter, BANTE-890, 2510-B (APHA-23rd edition)
Turbidity (NTU)Turbidity Meter , 2510-B (APHA-23rd edition)

Here are the permissible limits explained below.

Sr. #ParameterUnitsPermissible Limits
8Fluoride(mg/l)WHO: 1.5, IBWA: 3, PSQCA: 0.7
12Odor(mg/l)Odorless (NGVS), Unobjectionable (PSQCA)
14pH(mg/l)WHO: 6.5-8.5, PSQCA: 6.5-8.5
16Sodium(mg/l)WHO: 200, PSQCA: 50
18Taste(mg/l)Unobjectionable (NGVS), Unobjectionable (PSQCA)
19TDS(mg/l)WHO: 1000, IBWA: 500, PSQCA: 500
23Total ColiformsCFU/100ml0
unsafe water brands

When test results compared against the bottled water quality standards set by the Pakistan Standards and Quality Control Authority (PSQCA) showed that 19 brands did not meet the criteria for safe human consumption water due to either microbiological or chemical contamination. 

Six brands, such as Hensley Pure Water, Pure Life, Natural Pure Life, Klear, Am Mughal Pure Water, and Nero, were found to be unsafe due to higher sodium levels. Brand Nero was found to be unsafe due to a higher level of totally dissolved solids (TDS) than the permissible limit in Pakistan.

PCRWR also stated in its report that Starlay, Al-Faris Water, Nesspure, Pure Life, Nestlo Healthy Water, Nesspak, Natural Pure Life, Geo Max Premium, Karakorum, Cleana, Splash, Heavenly and 7 Bro were found contaminated with bacteria and thus were unsafe for drinking purposes. Similarly, Orwel, Cleana, and Still were found unsafe due to the presence of higher level of arsenic than the permissible limit. 

Here is the list of Unsafe Bottled Water Brands declared by PCRWR, mentioned as

Sr. NoBrand NameContaminant
1Al-Faris WaterBacterial contamination
2Geo Max PremiumBacterial contamination
3KarakorumBacterial contamination
4NesspakBacterial contamination
5Hensley Pure WaterHigher sodium levels
6Pure LifeHigher sodium levels
7Natural Pure LifeHigher sodium levels
8KlearHigher sodium levels
9Am Mughal Pure WaterHigher sodium levels
10NeroHigher TDS level
11StarlayBacterial contamination
12NesspureBacterial contamination
13Nestlo Healthy WaterBacterial contamination
14CleanaBacterial contamination
15SplashBacterial contamination
16HeavenlyBacterial contamination
177 BroBacterial contamination
18OrwelHigher arsenic level
19StillHigher arsenic level

World Health Organization (WHO) stated that approximately 2.3 billion people do not have direct access to safe drinking water worldwide. Drinking water may contain countless chemical, biological, and physical impurities. However, the increasing technological and population growth further adversely affects drinking water quality worldwide. Raising public awareness about drinking water quality is important factor for safeguarding human health worldwide. PCRWR sets quality standards for bottled water, ensuring its safety for consumption by keeping it free from contaminants. It also engage in public awareness campaigns to educate Pakistani people about the importance of choosing safe and quality bottled water products. These awareness seminars may include information on how to read labels, understand quality certifications and identify best brands.

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The disease potential from the contaminated bottled water is given below.

Sr. NoContaminantDiseases Impacts
1BacteriologicalCholera, Diarrhea, Dysentery, Typhoid etc.
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Access to safe drinking water is a basic human right. Pakistan Vision 2025 and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 2030 impose responsibilities on PCRWR to achieve its water and sanitation goals, In this research article, our Tashheer research team explained the report which tells that 19 water brands are not good for drinking in Pakistan. PCRWR advised the Pakistani public to read the detailed report to understand the water quality status of Pakistani bottled water brands they consume. It added that the comprehensive report is accessible on their website at www.pcrwr.gov.pk.

About the Author: Alishba

Alishba Zaheer is the lead content writer at Tashheer Digital and has a genuine passion for storytelling. With her team of skillful content writers, her expertise lies in the ability to seamlessly adapt writing style to various niches, checking new trends in Tech, especially in Pakistan. She stays ahead of the curve and maintains her dedication to writing excellence. Among other things, she has been instrumental in researching local brands, Pakistani products, and services, providing benchmark articles for Pakistani audiences.

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