A total of 11 bottled water brands are contaminated with bacteria amidst indications that the levels of bacteria in some brands were four times the acceptable levels stipulated by the Standards Association of Zimbabwe (SAZ).
Story first appeared in The Zimbabwe Independent
The sad development comes at a time most Zimbabweans have resorted to bottled and portable water as an escape from getting infected with the Cholera pandemic which has claimed at 50.
Results from laboratory tests which were conducted by the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) at the request of government for the quarter ending August 2018, 11 out of 17 bottled water brands contained bacteria.
According to the laboratory tests, water being sold under prestigious trade names such as Tingamira, bottled by Chipinge-based Tanganda; Aqualite produced by Dairibord Zimbabwe Limited and Oasis Still Purified and Spadmile Waters had higher-than-accepted levels.
Other bottled water brands with high levels are Exotican, Nature’s Paradise, Crystal Purelife, Still Purified, Spar Purified, Setzer, Manna Brook and Water Sparkling.
Of the 17 brands, Tingamira had agar plate count of 392 at 22 degrees Celsius and 266 at 37 degrees Celsius, followed by Spar Purified with 368 at 22 degrees Celsius and 102 at 37 degrees Celsius.
But water from Schweppes, Hydro Boost, Aqua Vita, ZLG, Vivon and Bonaqua registered a zero plate read.
“A total of 17 bottled water brands were analysed and these were Aqualite, Spar Purified, Schweppes, Hydro Boost, Aqua Vita, ZLG, Vivon, Tingamira, Bonaqua, Oasis Still Purified, Crystal Purelife, Spadmile Waters, Manna brook, Nature’s Paradise, Setzer, Exotican and Oasis Sparkling. The results did not show any faecal contamination in all the bottled water brands.
“However, some of the results showed the presence of total HPC which are above the Saz-recommended drinking water limits in the following brands: Spadmile waters, Exotican, Nature’s Paradise, Aqualite, Crystal Purelife, Tingamira, Oasis Still Purified and Spar Purified water,” reads a report accompanying the test results.
Spadmile has an agar plate count of 130 at 22 degrees Celsius and 128 at 37 degrees Celsius, Oasis (274 and 110), Crystal Purelife (290 and 67), Manna Brook (40 and 24), Nature’s Paradise (112 and 97), Setzer (13 and 3), Exotican (122 and 116), Oasis Sparkling (5 and 0) and Aqualite (208 and 132).
Agar plate count is the recommended test to determine plate counts of micro-organisms in food and water.
Total plate count is a measure of the biological activity in a sample. It is a count of all heterotrophic bacteria, fungi (moulds) and yeasts that will grow in aerobic conditions.
“This may be due to the fact that the finished product will often be exposed to elevated (ambient) temperatures over a period of days to weeks before consumption. This therefore presents ideal environmental conditions for the growth of heterotrophic bacteria,” the report reads.
According to a World Health Organisation 2002 report, high HPC counts indicate ideal conditions for bacterial regrowth and should be corrected.
A senior Ema official said: “What this means is that the presence of bacteria in the water is so high that it promotes perfect conditions for them to multiply and when this happens, the water could become harmful to humans. If you check the test results, you will realise that some brands have counts which far exceed the accepted levels and this is a cause for concern.”
Laboratory tests for the borehole water for the same period also indicated that water from many boreholes in Harare is unsafe for human consumption as tests have shown it is contaminated with the Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria. The pathogen can cause water-borne diseases and other health challenges like renal failure.
E. coli is a bacterium associated with faecal matter.
“In the year 2018, a total of 31 boreholes were sampled from Mbare, Southlea Park, Ushewokunze, Hopley, Southlands, Whitecliff, Kuwadzana, Warren Park, Kambuzuma, Budiriro, Glen View, Glen Norah, Highfield, Epworth, Mabvuku, Eastview, Mt Pleasant, Borrowdale, Hatfield, Belvedere and Hatcliffe.
“Out of the 31 points sampled, eight points showed presence of faecal contamination, that is about 26% of the sampled boreholes. The contaminated boreholes were Whitecliff, Kambuzuma 1, Mufakose 2, Mbare Stodart Hall, Hopley 2, Hatfield, Southlands 1 and Southlands 2. The number of boreholes being sampled reduced due to the fact that some of the boreholes in the different areas are no longer functional,” reads the report.
Ema recommended that government and local authorities install chlorinators alongside contaminated boreholes to prevent the spread of water-borne diseases.
SOURCE: The Zimbabwe Independent: