August 7, 2020

Consumer Reports Finds Higher Levels of Arsenic in Starkey Spring Water

Consumer Reports finds arsenic in Starkey Spring Water at higher levels than other brands. Starkey is  a bottled water product made by Whole Foods that is sold on Amazon. That’s alarming enough, but the level of arsenic in the water is “potentially harmful,” according to CR’s report. More than a year ago, CR published another list of bottled waters with higher arsenic levels which also included Starkey.

Consumer Reports Finds Higher Levels of Arsenic in Starkey Spring Water

Consumer Reports tested dozens of bottled water brands and found that Starkey Spring Water, which was introduced by Whole Foods in 2015, had at least three times the level of arsenic of every other brand they teated. The arsenic levels in that water ranged from 9.49 to 9.56 parts per billion (ppb). That is below the level the federal government sets, which is  10 ppb.

But Consumer Reports believes that the government’s limit is set too high. Arsenic is a heavy metal that can adversely affect a person’s lungs, skin, liver, and kidneys. Dr. James Dickerson, Consumers Report’s chief scientific officer said in a statement, “Drinking a single bottle of Starkey probably will not harm you. But regular consumption of even small amounts of the heavy metal over extended periods increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, certain cancers, and lower IQ scores in children, and poses other health issues as well.”

One of the issues with contamination of bottled water is that consumers turn to this product if they don’t like their tap water or are afraid it is not safe. Two states, New Jersey and New Hampshire have a limit of 5 ppb of arsenic in water, but those limits apply only to tap water. The federal government lets states put more strict limits on tap water, but federal bottled water regulations “generally prohibit states from creating more stringent limits for contaminants in bottled water.”

Many brands of bottle water that Consumer Reports tested earlier this year had undetectable levels of arsenic. Starkey Spring Water was the only brand tested that exceeded 3 ppb.

Starkey Spring Water was recalled in late 2016 and early 2017 after testing conducted by the state of Florida showed the water had 11.7 ppb of arsenic. Other lots tested at 12 ppb at that time. The FDA told Whole Foods about the results, and stated that “With prolonged use of the product for many years, a wide variety of adverse effects may occur.”

Starkey’s own internal tests show arsenic levels at 8 to 9 ppb, lower than the Consumer Reports tests showed.

CR says that studies examining the affects of arsenic in drinking water vary. A 2014 study in the journal Environmental Health showed that an arsenic level of 5 ppb or higher in a child’s household water supply was associated with a 5 to 6-point reduction in IQ. Researchers at Dartmouth’s Toxic Metals Superfund Research Program found that long term exposure to lower levels of arsenic can increase the risk of certain cancers and may be linked to heart disease and diabetes. And New Jersey, with its lower level limit of 5 ppb, states that  water with arsenic above 5 ppb “shouldn’t be used for drinking, cooking, mixing baby formula, or in other consumptive ways.” The effects of arsenic are cumulative.

To find out more about the bottled water you drink, look for water quality test reports from the company. Consumer Reports has a database you can look through. You should know that the FDA has  not established a standard of quality for regulation for soft drinks, which include carbonated or sparkling water.  Unlike bottled water, there are no limits set for contaminants that can be present in carbonated water. Some states have measures that go above and beyond  FDA regulations of these products.

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