Whole Foods' bottled water has "concerning levels of arsenic," says Consumer Reports

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2020/06/24/whole-foods-bottled-water-ha.html


How can you have “at least three times” of an “undetectable” level?

ETA: This report feels more like “we wish the FDA limit were lower” than anything else. If Whole Foods is breaking it, it baaaaarely is.

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I mean, it probably is a natural ingredient. Natural is healthy!


Makes me want to install a mass spectrometer in my kitchen and run an analysis on everything I bring into this house.



That’s what you get for going 2 miles deep, I guess. They should stick to bottling tap water like so many others.


“There’s just two things you must beware
Don’t drink the water and don’t breathe the air.”
–Tom Lehrer


They tested 45 samples. Many samples had undetectable levels of arsenic. Some had detectable levels in the 3 ppb range. The whole foods water had about 10 ppb, or 3x any of the other samples.

So yes, they are mostly grousing that the 10 ppb standard is too high but it also looks like this particular water is something of an outlier at least compared to other bottled water.


Hey, drinkable water is a hard problem, ok? The best country in the history of the universe can’t do it well, even. :roll_eyes:
Revealed: millions of Americans can’t afford water as bills rise 80% in a decade | Environment | The Guardian


They tested 45 samples. Many samples had undetectable levels of arsenic. Some had detectable levels in the 3 ppb range.

But this says that the WF water has “at least three times the level of every other brand tested.” If you don’t have a usable data point for every sample, how can you make that claim?

If the detection threshold is 1 ppb?


An undetectable level means that the arsenic level is below the detectable level, whatever that is. Since they have successfully detected levels in the 3 ppb range, anything undetectable must be lower than that, and hence the WF water must have even more than three times the arsenic.


I’d like to be
Under a spring
In an arsenic-filled garden
In the shade


Luckily, they put 3 asparagus stalks in it, call it “asparagus water” and charge $10 for it. Arsenic can’t survive at those prices.


What if one of those samples is legit zero arsenic? You can’t have at least three times zero.

The thread is about overly high levels of poison in bottled water, not math pedantry.


Well, their samples only went up to 9.56 ppb, so it’s all good. Right?

ETA given the subject matter, I would be derelict if I did not add this:


Yes you can. At least three times zero = at least zero = zero or more.


I wouldn’t worry about water with zero arsenic content. Even a small (500ml) bottle of water contains around 17 trillion trillion molecules, so if any water on Earth has enough arsenic to be detectable, you can safely assume that a good number of arsenic-containing molecules have ended up in that bottle.

Anyway, this story is a perplexing. Regardless of whether the limit is well-chosen, its point is that you have to go over it to endanger people. Like, a 35mph sign doesn’t mean “go as slow as possible, and if you start to get close to 28 or 30, then may god have mercy on your soul”.

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They call it “mineral water” and arsenic compounds are minerals so what’s wrong? BTW there are no safe levels of arsenic exposure. It’s all bad.

Seriously… I’ll stick with tap water in every city that has functional city services. Tap water is subject to all kinds of regulation and testing and doesn’t generate mountains of plastic waste. And it’s cheap.