Officials issue bottled water consumer advisory
BOSTON (WHDH) -- The following was released by the Department of Public Health.
STATE HEALTH OFFICIALS ISSUE CONSUMER ADVISORY ON CONTAMINATED BOTTLED WATER
BOSTON – Thursday, February 7, 2013 – The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) recommends that people who have purchased 3 gallon or 5 gallon water bottles since November 1, 2012 open and check for possible gasoline odors before using the water.
After Super Storm Sandy struck the eastern seaboard in October, some gasoline shortages were reported in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, and some residents used empty containers such as large water bottles to transport gasoline. DPH announced today that test results on a sample taken from a 5-gallon container of Poland Spring bottled drinking water showed the presence of chemical contamination.
Tests conducted by state officials showed that water was contaminated with a small amount of volatile organic compounds, including benzene, indicating gasoline contamination. An Essex County child became ill February 1 and was treated at a local emergency department after consuming water from a 5-gallon Poland Spring water bottle. The child was later released. The bottle originated from the Poland Spring bottling plant in Framingham, Mass and was delivered to the child’s home.
At low exposure levels, these compounds are generally rapidly metabolized and excreted in the urine. If swallowed, benzene exposure may irritate the mouth, esophagus and stomach, causing nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. At low exposure levels, benzene is rapidly metabolized in the urine.
In the past three months, bottled water companies have detected and blocked from reuse an increased number of returned water bottles found to contain gasoline residue or fumes. However, despite these detection efforts, as well as disinfection and sanitization protocols, a very small number of contaminated bottles are believed to have made it through the detection process and back into consumer use. The exposure levels involved are not likely to result in long-term health effects. DPH is working collaboratively with the FDA on this issue.
DPH recommends that consumers who have purchased 3-gallon or 5-gallon water bottles since November 1, 2012 should check for any odors before using the bottles. Clean water is odorless and should not have any chemical smell.
Consumers should use their 3- or 5-gallon waters for their intended use which is for drinking water only.
If you find a water bottle with an odor, do not drink or use the water. Instead, call your bottled water provider to make arrangements to get a replacement. If you have health concerns contact your health care provider.
Bottled water that is not in 3-gallon or 5-gallon containers is not affected by this issue.