ISLAMABAD: Only 36 per cent of the Pakistani population on average, including 41% in urban areas and 32% rural areas, has access to safe drinking water in the country, a report by the World Health Organisation (WHO) revealed.
Results of the water-quality monitoring efforts by the Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR) indicate that 69 to 85% of collected samples of water were contaminated.
The Ministry of Science and Technology has established 24 water-quality monitoring laboratories all over the country to check quality of water on the provided samples, a ministry official stated.
He said that the poor quality of drinking water has forced a large cross-section of citizens to buy bottled water. As a consequence, a mushrooming of bottled water industry in the country has been witnessed during the last few years.
Many mineral/bottled water companies, however, were found selling contaminated water.
To monitor and improve the quality of bottled water, the government through Ministry of Science and Technology has designated the task to PCRWR for quarterly monitoring of bottled/mineral water brands and publicise the results.
According to the monitoring report for the quarter from July to September, 2017, 104 samples of mineral/bottled water brands have been collected from Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Sialkot, Peshawar, Multan, Lahore, Quetta, Bahawalpur, Tandojam, Karachi and Muzaffarabad.
Comparison of analytical findings with permissible limits of Pakistan Standards & Quality Control Authority (PSQCA) has revealed that 9 brands were found to be unsafe due to chemical and microbiological contaminations.
Out of those unsafe brands, four brands were found to have comparatively high levels of arsenic. Excessive level of arsenic can cause various types of skin diseases, diabetes, kidney diseases, hypertension, heart diseases birth defects, black foot diseases and multiple types of cancers etc.
The rest were found to be unsafe due to microbiological contamination which may cause cholera, diarrhea, dysentery, hepatitis, typhoid, etc.