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Water is an essential component in our life

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Environmental Studies
Wordcount: 5258 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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1.1 Background

Water is an essential component in our life and it can be found in a very large quantity on the earth. Without water, there would be no living plant and animal. The water consumed by human originated in various forms and from various sources (Baba >et al., 2008). Lately, the popularity of bottled mineral water with consumers has increased due to the increasing contamination of water resources. According to the International Bottled Water Association (2000), natural mineral water is water that clearly comes from underground sources. It is distinguished from ordinary drinking water because it is characterized by its content of certain mineral salts and their relative proportion and the presence of trace elements of other constituents. Besides that, natural mineral water is also defined as groundwater that obtained directly for human consumption from drilled or natural sources from underground water (Malaysia’s Food Regulation, 1985).

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Nowadays lifestyles have moved most of the population towards the portable and convenient bottled mineral water. With a lot of bottled mineral water brands available in the market ranging from high end names like Evian to local brands like Spritzer and Mesra, today’s consumer has lots of choices thereby making it necessary for the manufacturer of bottled mineral water to come out with unique strategies to stay up to date in this highly competitive market.

Bottled mineral water has become an importance habit in people’s everyday lives. Bottled mineral water may even be needful, in case of temporary tap water contamination. Whatever be the reason, the trend towards consuming bottled water is predicted to increase in the coming years.

Bottled water has been steadily growing over the past three decades due the dynamic sectors of the food and beverage industry. Water has endurances and sales appeal in any food service segment. It also free of sugar, calories and alcohol, and outruns juice, coffee and soda as a beverage for all day parts.

Bottled mineral water consumption in the world is increasing by an average 7% each year, inspite of the fact that bottled mineral water has a higher price. The convenience of bottled water that can be easily purchased at retail outlets and easy to get rid of is the major factor leading many to purchase bottled mineral water. These factors have led to the increasing global production of bottled water, from estimated 142 billion liters in 2002 to over 173 billion liters in 2006. Danone, Nestle, Coca-Cola and PepsiCo are the world’s top four bottled mineral water companies. Although Coca-Cola and PepsiCo are known as the big carbonated soft drinks manufacturers, they have also noted the potential in the bottled mineral water market and have been developing their brands and capabilities in this market. Although major consumers of bottled water are in Europe and North America, the most promising markets are in Asia Pacific with an annual growth rate of 15% (Frost and Sullivan, 2007).

The increase in consumption in global with a high income is mainly due to the increasing awareness of the health preserving properties of water, both in its basic, hydrating function as well as a source of precious minerals. Table 1.1 shows how the world market of bottled water in the 2008, with Mexico being the highest consumption.

Table 1.1: Per capita consumption of bottled water in leading countries (Beverage Marketing Corporation, 2008).


Gallons Per Capita









United Arab Emirates





















United States












Bottled mineral water is a profitable market in Malaysia. The market is set to undergo greater product differentiation with participants expected to expand into functional and to improve on packaging in order to obtain a higher share of the market. Competition is also predicted to increase with more private labels appearing in the market. Positive growth in this market has increased the interest of other manufacturers and distributors and the increasing competition is likely to support the growth in the coming years.

In Malaysia, there are differences between Natural Mineral Water (NWM) and Packaged Drinking Water (PDW). Natural mineral water is defined as groundwater obtained for human consumption from underground water resources. It contains various minerals such as Sodium, Magnesium, Potassium and Calcium. Therefore, all NMW must comply with the standards as prescribed in Schedule 26 (Regulation 360A (7)), Food Regulations 1985. Packaged drinking water shall be potable water or treated potable water other than natural mineral water that is sealed in bottles or other types of packaging and is for human consumption. The source for this PDW can be from public water supply, surface water or underground water. The simplest way to differentiate between these two types of bottled water is by the colour of the bottle cap. Multicoloured bottle caps are given for natural mineral water while white bottle caps are only for packaged drinking water

Competition from water dispensed by vending machines, the price of bottled mineral water, and growing consumer awareness of the environmental impact of bottled mineral water are found to be restraining bottled mineral water growth in Malaysia. Furthermore, the increasing of consumer’s concern for the environment, both in terms of the wastes resulting from the polyethyleneterepthalate (PET) bottles and the effect on the ecological system from wide scale water extraction, is also one of the reason for some consumers to prevent from purchasing bottled mineral water.

1.2 Statement of problem

Based on Latinopolous >et al. (1997), a serious health effect that may cause by groundwater contamination is the reason for the increasing of public concern about the quality of groundwater resource in recent years. In present, the public is getting more concerned about their health whereby they are more interested to know about the water they consume.

The most severe contamination of groundwater was recently discovered, where millions of people are at risk and consumption of these heavy metals contaminated water has caused widespread death and disease (Nickson >et al., 1998). Heavy metals are critical in this regard because of their easy uptake into the food chain and because of bioaccumulation processes (Diagomanolin >et al., 2004). It means that concentration of a chemical will increase in our bodies over time. Our body absorbed these heavy metals from the environment and they are stored at a rate that is faster than they are metabolized or excreted from the body. In traces concentration, some heavy metals like copper and zinc are essential to maintaining good health and metabolism within the human body. But if the concentration level is higher enough, even beneficial metals can be toxic and poison us.

1.3 Objectives of the study

This study tends to highlight the specific element of heavy metals present in each bottled mineral water. More specifically, the aims are:

  1. To measure the level of heavy metals in selected bottled mineral water.
  2. To compare and compile the selected analyzed water parameters with World Health Organization (WHO) and Ministry of Health (MOH) water quality guidelines.

1.4 Significant of the study

This study focus on generating data that will provide information on the concentration of the elements found in selected mineral water for public purpose. The data will help us to know whether the mineral water content present is in the amount claimed by the manufacturers or not. This is important for human consumption purpose where the public have the right to know the exact content in bottled mineral water they consume and is the bottled mineral water is safe for drinking, relatively pure from heavy metals. Humans nowadays also depend on bottled mineral water rather than tap water due to lack of contamination and it has a better taste. The concentration of these metals in the mineral water may vary depends on the location of the source and the company’s manufacturer.

1.5 Thesis outline

Overall, this thesis consist of five chapters which purposely to assist in understanding and easy to organize though writing process. The chapters in this thesis have been organized as follows:

Chapter 1 of this thesis discusses the background of the study, the statement of problem, the need for the study and lists of objectives.

Chapter 2 generally discusses on the literature review which are the theory and argumentation of the previous researcher about the topic. In this chapter, there are explanations and details about the mineral water, classification and its characteristic, groundwater, groundwater contamination, drinking water quality, trace elements, human health effect, health related guideline, bottled mineral water and lastly indication of bottled mineral water. This chapter will help us in further understanding the concept and why this topic is significant to be studied.

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Chapter 3 more focuses on research methodology. In this chapter research methodology is more on the way to analyze the concentration of trace element by using inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS Perkin Elmer Series 200). It is divided into several parts which were sample collection and preparation, elemental analysis, quality assurance and control and also statistical analysis.

Chapter 4 is focusing on the result and discussion. It also include the statistical tools to analyze the precision of the data obtain in order to have a good data. It also states the results and the data interpretation between the samples.

Chapter 5 as the last chapter functions as a conclusion to the whole chapter in this thesis. It also consists of suggestion and recommendation for future study in improving the way of conducting the project. This is followed by references.



2.1 Water distribution

Water is necessary for life due to its natural elements which play a central role and it is important in human nutrition (Naddeo >et al., 2008). Water is the fundamental constituent of animal organisms and it is the medium through which all metabolic reactions happen. Water is the medium for all biological processes and a basic and essential dietary constituent. In other words, water is essential for life and, therefore, must be available to all, adequate, safe, accessible wholesome and, above all, should not cause appreciable health hazards, as it is needed for all other types of food (Sciacca and Conti, 2009).

Malaysia which is located in the humid tropics is generally endowed with fairly abundant rainfall of 3000 mm annually (about 990 million cu/m), of which surface run-off is around 57%. However, seasonal distribution and variation, both temporally and spatially, provide some regions to be occasionally water-stressed. 60% of rain falls between November and January annually. Fast flowing of economic growth in Malaysia in the recent years, combined with periodic occurrence of lengthy drought has brought the problems of water imbalance into sharper focus, especially where development is concentrated in water stress regions. There are more people than what a river basin and groundwater can support in some regions (JPS, 2008).

From data compiled by the Department of Environment (2005), the overall trend points to a slow but steady becoming worse in the water quality of rivers around the country. River systems as a whole, with or without confining reservoirs, 97% are estimated to contribute to the raw water supply source. The increasing population growth, coupled with rapid agricultural and industrial development, the availability of small numbers of water resources to meet increasing water demand is fast becoming a pressing issue. Due to lack access to clean water resources, consumption of bottled mineral water increased (Al Fraij >et al., 1999).

2.2 Groundwater

It is estimated that more than 50% of the world’s population depends on groundwater for drinking (Fry 2005). Groundwater is the only source of drinking water for many rural and small communities (Hani 1990). Groundwater naturally results from waters that infiltrate from the land surface and percolate to the underlying strata. Groundwater must be free from organisms that are capable of causing disease and also from minerals and organic substances that could produce adverse physiological effects to make it safe for human consumption. Drinking water should be aesthetically acceptable that it should be free from apparent turbidity, colour and odour and from any objectionable taste. Drinking water should also be at a relatively sensible temperature. Water meeting these conditions is described potable, meaning that it may be consumed in any desired amount without giving any adverse effects to human’s health (Cotruvo and Vogt, 1990).

There is high interest on the quality of groundwater all over the world due to severe problems of water stress and deterioration of water quality. The quality of groundwater highly depends on the composition o, the mineralogy, recharging water and reactivity of the geological formations in aquifers, the impact of human and industrial activities and the environmental parameters that can bring effects to the geochemical mobility of certain substances (Kouras >et al., 2007).

2.2.1 Occurrence of groundwater

Groundwater forms by part of the natural water cycle and constitutes a major portion of the cycle. Voids, spaces and cracks between particles of soil, sand, gravel, rock or other materials can be a stored place for groundwater (William >et al., 1993). Groundwater is occurred in various types of geological formation and exists in permeable geologic formation called aquifers which can store and transmit water. In many areas of the world, water does not flow in and is not stored in large underground lakes or rivers. It is stored in and moves slowly through the aquifer. Groundwater resources are underutilized in most parts of Malaysia (Jasni >et al., 2006). The hydrogeology of Peninsular Malaysia could be simplified and divided into 4 major aquifers that represent in Table 2.1.

Table 2.1: Types of aquifers found in Malaysia (Minerals and Geoscience Department Malaysia, 2004)



Aquifers in Alluvial Deposits

Limestone/Carbonate Rock Aquifers

Aquifers in Sedimentary and Volcanic Rocks

Aquifers in Crystalline Igneous Rocks

Aquifers in the alluvial deposits occur along the coastal zones of Malaysia and are made up of Quaternary deposits consisting of gravel, sand, silt and clay. The extent, nature and composition of the alluvium vary at different localities.

This type of aquifer is made up of carbonate rocks (limestone and marble). The quality of the groundwater is generally good but has moderate to high total dissolved solids due to soluble bicarbonates.

These aquifers are represented by fractures within sandstone, quartzite, conglomerate and volcanic rocks. The water from these aquifers is generally of medium to good quality.

Fractures within crystalline rocks and associated rocks, form this type of aquifer. The quality of water is generally good to excellent with low total dissolved solids.

Based on Wilson >et al. (1983), groundwater comprises water from springs or from wells and boreholes used to catch water from the aquifers by means of pumps. Deep wells or boreholes provide usually water of excellent bacteriological quality. Groundwater is therefore often used without any treatment, except physicochemical ones to reduce hardness or eliminate off flavors and odors. The water pumped from boreholes or shallow wells, however, is easily exposed to pollution and contamination. Depending on the type of aquifer, the type of soil and its protective effect against pollution, the physicochemical characteristics of the water, and the levels of the microbial flora may be very low (Bischofberger >et al., 1990). 105-107 cfu/mL of microbial flora have been reported. In such cases, microbial and chemical contaminants may reach groundwater sources through wells, due to infiltration, leakage of solids at the surface, leaks in pipelines, effects of agricultural treatments, cross contamination between aquifers, water fluxes due to rainfalls, etc (Wilson >et al., 1983). According to Aastrup and Thunholm (2000), groundwater can be considered both as storage of metals, as the movement in the groundwater zone generally is quite slow, and as a transporting agent for metals. In natural ecosystems it is the only agent for horizontal transport within recharge areas.

2.3 Groundwater consumption in Malaysia

As surface water is readily available throughout the year, it is abstracted mainly for irrigation and domestic uses. Some pockets of the coastal region and is generally exploited by rural people to supplement their piped water supply can limiting the groundwater potential. Surface water represents 97% of the total water use, while groundwater represents 3%. About 60-65% of groundwater utilization is for domestic and municipal purposes, 5% for irrigation and 30-35% for industry (FAO, 2007).

2.4 Groundwater contamination

Since the beginning of this century, we have been living in a sophisticated chemical world (Goodarzi and Mukhopadhyay, 2000). Groundwater contamination can gives major implications to human’s health and the environment in urban areas (Dechesne >et al., 2004). The groundwater beneath polluted urban areas may be contaminated by heavy metals and trace elements and may contain a wide variety of organic compounds, all of which have a major effect on the water supply and the environment (Vidal >et al., 2000). In this chemical world, the pollutants that occur in our environment can be classified into two categories that are natural and synthetic. The natural pollutants are derived from the decay of plant substances, flow of water through rocks that contain fossil fuel and transportation as air or water borne components derived from volcanic eruptions or forest fires. Similar compounds, as those released naturally, may also be derived as a synthetic by product from anthropogenic sources. Therefore, pollutants can be derived from a number of two sources in a natural ecosystem especially in the aquatic regime. The sources of some of the pollutants are often difficult to predict and (Goodarzi and Mukhopadhyay, 2000). Goodarzi and Mukhopadhyay (2000) also claimed that the distribution of inorganic elements in the groundwater is universal. They occur as suspended particulates or dissolved as elements, ions, or complex molecules. Some of them are toxic and carcinogenic to humans and other biohabitats. Based on Zhang (1993), rapid industrial development in the last few years has added huge loads of pollutants to our groundwater aquifer. Diagomanolin >et al. (2004) also postulated that the progress of industries has led to increased emission of pollutants into ecosystems.

Contaminants can differentiate as inorganic or organic chemicals, radionuclides, and microorganisms. Mineral based and do not contain carbon are called the inorganic mineral. They may occur naturally or enter the watershed from farming or industrial discharge. Examples of inorganic contaminants are lead, nitrates, and arsenic. Organic chemicals contain carbon and access the watershed from agricultural and industrial run off. Volatile organic chemicals are persistent in the environment and have been associated with cancer and neurological and reproductive health effects. Examples include gasoline and degreasing and dry cleaning solvents. There are over 30 standards for synthetic organic chemicals, many of which are pesticides (Afzal, 2006)

Based on Leeuwen (2000), there are many sources of contamination of drinking water. Widely they can be categorized into two categories that are contaminants in ground and surface water. The sources for drinking water production and contaminants used or formed during the treatment and distribution of drinking water. Contaminants in ground and surface water will range from natural substances leaching from soil, run-off from agricultural activities, controlled discharge from sewage treatment works and industrial plants, and uncontrolled discharges or leakage from landfill sites and from chemical accidents or disasters. Contaminants that occurred naturally are predominantly formed by inorganic compounds such as arsenic and manganese, which are derived from natural mineral formations. Organic compounds, pesticides, disinfectants and disinfectant by products are usually introduced by anthropogenic activity.

Out of these pollutants, heavy metals are of major concern because of their persistent and bioaccumulative nature. Heavy metal is one of the most serious inorganic contaminants in drinking water on a worldwide region (Smedley and Kinniburgh, 2002). These heavy metals can enter into the groundwater system by weathering and erosion or anthropogenic due to industrial processing, agricultural run off and sewage disposal (Kaushik >et al., 2009). Heavy metals concentration can increase due to the industrial effluents, non-point pollution sources, as well as atmospheric precipitation (Klavins >et al., 2000). The presence of toxic pollutants in groundwater has to be avoided in order to preserve the environmental quality because it can bring about significant changes in the properties of water resources (Natale >et al., 2008).

Anthropogenic activity has often been the reason for the mobilization of natural heavy metal deposits (Vidal >et al., 2000). Heavy metal contamination in drinking water sources is known widely and has give effects to the population for many generations. Volcanic, geothermal and mining activities, in conjunction with evapoconcentration in the arid climate, are the well known causes for the increasing levels of heavy metal concentrations in groundwater (Karcher >et al., 1999). Heavy metals can be mobilized from initially inert minerals through mining activity. Acid drainage waters from mining areas can be highly enriched with toxic levels of heavy metals (Nordstrom >et al., 2000).

2.5 Mineral water

Mineral water may represent a good source of nutrition which is necessary for the needs of human body (Ekmekcioglu, 2000). Mineral water always contains various minerals and trace elements (Saleh >et al., 2001), and can be defined as water containing minerals which are natural compounds formed through geological processes or other dissolved substances that alter its taste or give it therapeutic properties which gives good healing to any disease (Warburton >et al., 1992). Human beings required minerals for nutrition, growth, sustaining body functions and well being (Baba >et al., 2008). These minerals have various effects on the human’s health (WHO, 2008). The demand for natural mineral waters is increasing due to the increasing of pollution in drinking water. The quality of drinking water is significant for health in both developing and developed countries worldwide (Cemek >et al., 2007). According to Wilson >et al. (1983), mineral water is drawn from underground sources such as a bore holes or a springs. Mineral waters are different regarding to their composition and content in minerals. Natural mineral water that comes from the groundwater is the most valuable freshwater resource on the earth (Madan >et al., 1999) and it plays an important role in drinking water supply all over the world and is often preferred for drinking water supply and it deemed to be the best water for the consumption of human (Soltan, 1999).

Natural mineral waters have long been used for medical purposes (Albu >et al., 1997). The term natural mineral water is defined as it originates in an underground water table or deposit, it differs from treated water in its original purity that is bacteriologically healthy and its content of minerals, trace minerals and other constituents, which must remain constant. Only natural mineral water has the characteristics that can benefits human health. Natural mineral water can be sparkling or still. During bottling, the carbon dioxide that causes carbonation also can be natural or added. Bottling is done at the source and treatments to make partial changes to the composition of or purify natural mineral water bacteriologically are prohibited (Cemek >et al., 2007).

Mineral water run across highly mineralised rocks. The geological sources of natural mineral water are known as aquifers, which can be from different types, and they differ greatly in terms of their depth, horizontal extent, composition, and permeability. Water filtering underground flows slowly through deep permeable rocks and sediments and diffuses into the empty interstitial space of the rocks. Water picks up minerals and other elements depending on the chemical make-up of the strata while passing through the underground strata. This is why they have higher concentrations of minerals and trace minerals than other kinds of water (Botezatu >et al., 2005).

According to Misund >et al. (1999), natural mineral water is characterized by its mineral content, trace elements or other constituents and, where appropriate, by certain effects, also by being in its original state, both conditions having been preserved intact because of the underground origin of the water which has been protected from all risk of pollution. The composition, temperature and other essential characteristics of natural mineral water must remain stable at source within the limits of natural fluctuation. In particular, they must not be affected by possible variations in the rate of flow. Mineral waters may be gaseous or non gaseous. Disinfections are not allowed in terms of treatment. The only treatment authorized is filtration or decanting and the addition or removal of carbon dioxide.

Based on Petraccia >et al. (2006), mineral waters are of underground origin, protected from contamination, and microbiologically wholesome, present a peculiar and constant chemical composition, and have favorable effects on health. To ensure it is safe, they must be bottled at source and checked containers. Mineral water does not simply mean containing minerals in fact waters that run underground and are enriched with minerals by contact with rocks cannot be considered mineral waters unless they do not possess therapeutic properties.

2.6 Classification and characteristics of mineral waters

Based on Petraccia >et al. (2006), natural mineral waters can be classified into potable waters, dietetic waters, and healing waters. Bottled dietetic waters showed that it can be used to restore salts and hydrate through experimental evidence and are useful in low sodium diets and provide the right calcium intake in particular conditions. Healing waters possess pharmacological and clinical properties related to prevention and treatment of specific pathologies. They are used in thermal establishments, under medical control, for drinking, irrigations, inhalations, and baths. The main classification parameters for mineral waters are rate of flow, temperature, freezing point, dry residues at 180oC, predominant ion composition, and predominant biological activity. The rate of flow of the spring must be stable, and ground water table must be deep, with a sufficiently large basin. Waters can be cold waters based on its temperature that is temperature at source up to 20oC and thermal waters that is temperature higher than 20oC. Based on the freezing point mineral waters are categorized into isotonic, hypotonic, and hypertonic. Freezing point is influenced by osmotic pressure and mineral concentration. Based on dry residues at 180oC that is total salts in grams after evaporation of 1 L mineral water at 180oC, waters can be divided based on their mineral contents. Table 2.2 shows the classification of mineral content in water whereas Table 2.3 shows the current Italian classification that is based on the predominant chemical elements resulting in the biological and healing effects of the mineral water.

Table 2.2: Classification of mineral content in water (Petraccia >et al., 2006)

Mineral content

Dry residue (mg/l)


>50 and <500


>500 and <1500



Table 2.3: Current Italian classification (Petraccia >et al., 2006)


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Bicarbonate water

bicarbonate content greater than 600mg/l

Sulfate water

sulfate content greater than 200mg/l

Chlorinated water

chloride content greater than 200mg/l

Calcium water

calcium content greater than 150mg/l

Magnesium water

magnesium content greater than 50mg/l