An article published on March 24, 2017 in the peer-reviewed journal Science of the Total Environment reported on the analysis of French bottled waters for the presence of chemical contaminants. Laurine Le Coadou and colleagues from the University of Bordeaux, Talence, France surveyed 40 brands of bottled waters, either natural mineral water or spring water, which represented 70% of the French market by volume. Most of the samples originated from different areas of the continental France, covering a variety of geologically diverse French watersheds, of which none were in a predominantly urban or industrial environment.

Sampling was performed directly at the end of the packaging lines, just after bottling, and samples were transported to the laboratory in their original packaging (polyethylene terephthalate (PET) or glass bottles) and stored frozen until extraction and analysis. The authors did not attempt to specifically investigate the influence of packaging material on the chemical levels in bottled water. Mass spectrometry-based analysis, employing 12 different analytical procedures with 49 methodologies, was used to investigate the presence of 330 compounds, for most of which (87%) a limit of quantitation (LOQ) below ng/L was reached.

Of the 40 water types analyzed for 330 compounds, 11 samples were positive for one or more of the 19 compounds detected at the levels above the LOQ. These 19 substances included 4 out of 118 investigated herbicides, 7 out of 19 investigated pesticide transformation products, two out of 8 investigated alkyl phenols, and 6 out of 10 investigated poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs). All detected compounds were below the regulatory limits (if applicable). The authors suggested the bottling equipment, such as gaskets present inside the flanges between stainless steel pipes, as the possible source of PFASs, and high density polyethylene (HDPE) caps as source of alkylphenols in the bottled water. Within this study, no additional analyses have been performed to further investigate the sources of contamination. Of the 172 pharmaceuticals, 11 hormones, or 11 phthalates, none were detected in any of the samples analyzed.


Le Coadou, L., et al. (2017). “Quality survey of natural mineral water and spring water sold in France: Monitoring of hormones, pharmaceuticals, pesticides, perfluoroalkyl substances, phthalates, and alkylphenols at the ultra-trace level.Science of the Total Environment (published March 24, 2017).