2010-2011 Bromate in Bottled Water

Executive Summary

The Food Safety Action Plan aims to modernize and enhance Canada’s food safety system. As a part of the FSAP enhanced surveillance initiative, targeted surveys are used to test various foods for specific hazards.

The main objectives of the bromate in bottled water targeted survey were to:

  • Provide baseline surveillance data for bromate levels in bottled waters
  • Examine whether elevated bromate levels in bottled waters can be linked to products that have undergone ozonation

Bromate is a residual chemical compound that can be formed in bottled waters when sufficient levels of bromide are present in waters during disinfection via ozonation. Bromide ions are naturally occurring compounds in water resulting from runoff, leaching or seawater intrusion. Bromate is considered to be possibly carcinogenic to humans. In the 2010-11 bromate targeted survey, a total of 288 samples were collected across Canada. Samples consisted of spring waters, mineral waters and purified waters from both domestic and imported origins.

Of the 288 samples analyzed for bromate, 250 samples (87%) did not contain any detectable residues of bromate. The remaining 38 samples (13%) had bromate levels ranging from 1.7-21 ppb. Six samples (2%) contained bromate levels in excess of the Canadian drinking water standard of 10 ppb.

When the resulting levels of bromate were compared with the declared use of ozone on a product, the results were varied. The average levels of bromate in non-ozonated products were lower than ozonated products. However, the highest bromate levels observed were in products that did not indicate ozonation had been utilized.

Health Canada was asked to provide an opinion on the dataset generated for this survey. Based on their evaluation of the data, Health Canada determined that overall levels of bromate in bottled water are not expected to pose an unacceptable health risk. The majority of bromate levels in bottled water are well below the Canadian Guidelines for Drinking Water Quality and therefore exposure exceeding the guideline is not expected to occur on a long-term basis.

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