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Drinking bottled mineral water culture in Manipur

N Irabanta Singh

Introduction :
Potability of water depends on its various quantities such as its physical, chemical and bacteriological aspects. The quality of water is maintained for promotion of health and well being of the consumers. Pure water is one which is colourless, free from turbidity and abnormal taste and odour. While wholesome water is one which is free from pathogenic organisms. It should not have substance which can dissolved lead, zinc or other poisonous metals with which water remains in contact during its storage and distribution. In this connection, drinking bottled mineral water culture in Manipur has become a fashion in the recent past but not aware of its contents. Moreover, a number of mineral water bottling plans under different attractive advertisement have been coming up in Manipur like mushroom growth. In this article, the author wish to made the general public aware of the physical, chemical and bacteriological contents of bottled mineral water by a recent case study.

Case study :
Ten different brands of bottled mineral water locally available in Gurgoan city (Haryana state) was tested for its physical, chemical and bacteriological quantities.

Physical examination revealed that all the samples of bottled water were not having any objectionable range of physical characters and all the 10(100%) brands were fit for drinking purpose as per ISI standard(1997). However, it was noted on screening the labels on the ten (10) bottled mineral water belonging to different brands, non-listed the physical characters of water on the label. On examination all the characters were within the prescribed limit as laid down by ISI (1997). The results of the study revealed that the bottled water samples were colourless, turbidity ranged from1-3 NTU, PH from 7.2-8.3 and organic matter was absent.
Chemical examination of mineral water revealed that the chloride, nitrate and hardness of the water were of acceptable level and ranging from 120-700ppm, nil-81ppm and 1800-550ppm respectively. While the fluoride content (ranged from nil- 0.1ppm) to all the brands were below the standard laid by Government of India (1997). The Government of India stated that the range of chlorine, fluorine, nitrate, and hardness should be 200-1000ppm, 0.5-2.0ppm, 45-100ppm and 200-600ppm respectively. On this basis all the ten (10) samples were found to be unfit for human consumption due to the presence of low (below 0.5) fluorine content. The results of the study also revealed that fluorine was present as per the norms stated by the Government of India. It is also essential that chemicals like fluorine should not be below 0.5pp (WHO, 1993). It was noted that non of the bottled water which belongs to ten (10) different companies listed chemical contents on the label.

On the basis of results of overall micro-biological tests viz Standard Plate Count (SPC), Psychrophilic Count, Coliform Count, Faecal Streptococci Count, E. Coli Count and Staphylococcus Count only 2(20%) samples passed to be fit for consumption, while 8(80%) samples had higher microbiological value.[M.Sc Public Health Thesis, TGOUN-B.S. Page; 215]

Discussion :
In the United States of America, the Standards of bottled water are set by Food and Drug Administration (1998). Even in India, bottled mineral water are available for the last two decades or so but there is no regulatory agency which sets and regulates standard for bottled water, though they obtain license from the Government and some of them even claim that their specifications are comparable to WHO standards (1993). As such, presumptive coliform was present in 10 percent samples collected from the bottled mineral water manufactured by some brands. Therefore, certain examinations like physical, chemical and bacteriological should be carried out to see the quantity of water (Reddy et al, 2000).

Conclusion and recommendation :
So far, to the knowledge of the present writer there is no regulatory for bottled mineral water in Manipur. The factories obtained license from the Manipur Government and some of the firms even claimed through T.V. advertisement that their specifications are comparable to WHO standards. It is recommended that some academic Institution in Manipur need to take up an unbiased analysis of bottled drinking mineral water available in the markets of Manipur. Such Institution can examine whether the prescribed standard contents are maintained or otherwise. The mineral water bottling factories should also display the contents pasted on the respective bottle for public awareness.

(The writer is former Professor of Life Sciences, MU and former Dean, School of Life Sciences, MU and can be contacted at irabanta.singh@gmail.com)

Source: The Sangai Express



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