Bottled or garrafon water in Mexico City contains bacteria and fecal matter in at least half of the products available on the market. For this reason, its consumption is not adequate for human health, according to a study prepared and published by the researcher Homero Martínez Salgado of the National Polytechnic Institute.
The study indicates that most of the water jugs that are consumed in the capital have presence of faecal residues that can cause serious diseases, such as diarrheal disease, and damage to the immune system.
At least two thousand small water bottlers in Mexico City do not have certainty about the quality of the products, according to the investigation.
“It is a common belief among people that bottled water is free of impurities such as inorganic ions, heavy metals, organic compounds, and bacteria, which they consider safer than tap water. However, several studies have documented the detection of aerobic bacteria and coliforms in bottled water at counts that exceed the national and international limits allowed for drinking water for human consumption,” said the researcher at the Children’s Hospital of Mexico and Cornell University.
This is because the water bottling and distribution companies do not meet the minimum quality and hygiene standards. The study revealed that more than 60% of the samples were positive for coliform bacteria and more than 20% were positive for E. Coli, both species are indicative of the presence of fecal matter. Furthermore, a third of the samples studied contained non-tuberculous microbacteria and in 41% the amount of aerobic mesophilic bacteria exceeded the maximum.
“It is a serious problem because it is estimated that around 50 percent of the water that is purchased from fillers has coliform bacteria combined with fecal matter that, in the midst of the COVID-19 epidemic, can weaken the immune system, causing diarrhea.
The study was carried out with a sample of 111 containers of 20 liters of water, from small purification plants in Mexico City. This type of packaging is the most consumed in the capital.
The problem of contamination in the water could be due to the poor cleaning of the jugs, since it is necessary to subject the containers to a washing process of at least 10 minutes: the use of water, soap and a brush is not enough.
Despite the fact that the quality of bottled water is not optimal for human consumption, the water available through the public casing service does not have the necessary quality either. The cause of this is, again, the lack of proper sanitation and cleaning of the infrastructure.
Some varieties of E. coli bacteria, Escherichia coli Diarrogenic, are disease-causing pathogens, known as pathotypes. Although the bacteria are normally present in the intestinal microbiota, the presence of some of these organisms can cause serious damage such as severe diarrheal disease.
According to studies by the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children’s Fund, these bacteria cause between five and six million deaths in children in developing countries. It constitutes the second global cause of infant mortality, particularly in children under five years of age. However, it can affect all age groups.