Risk assessor finds no hormone-like activity in mineral water

By Guy Montague-Jones

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Mineral water Bottled water

The German federal risk assessor has recommended further research into hormone-like activity in natural mineral waters despite finding no cause for concern in recent tests.

The Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) in Germany said it had recently analysed chemical data on bottled mineral water from the CVUA, an inspection agency in Stuttgart.

No substances were detected that are known to cause hormone-like activities although some substances were identified for which there is no data on hormone-like activity available. In addition, BfR said oestrogen-like activities were not detected in those mineral waters on test.

Overall, the German risk assessor concluded that “mineral water should not exhibit hormone-like activity.”

But significant additional research to assess potential health risks was recommended.

“Water obtained directly at the spring, water that has undergone treatment by bottlers and water that is available in shops, bottled mineral water of different storage periods should be analysed and compared.”

Previous studies raised concerns

The BfR research follows on from a 2009 study conducted by researchers at Goethe University in Frankfurt that raised the alarm about estrogenic activity in bottled water and suggested packaging could be to blame.

Writing in Environmental Science and Pollution Research, ​the scientists suggested that estrogenic compounds leach out of plastic packaging into bottled water.

They reached the conclusion after analysing 20 brands of mineral water in Germany, including nine bottled in plastic, nine packed in glass and two in paperboard.

BfR spokesperson Jürgen Their-Kundke told this publication that the Frankfurt study had, in line with previous research, uncovered hormone-like activity in mineral water.

But he questioned the suitability of the test systems used in the study and said the researchers had been hasty to attribute the hormone-like activity to plastic bottles.

The spokesperson said a previous study had found hormone-like activity in water taken directly from source, suggesting that packaging may not be responsible at all.

To establish exactly what is responsible, the BfR is therefore calling for more research comparing water at different stages of the product life cycle from the spring to the cupboard. Another future research task is to discover if hormone-like activity reported in mineral water is even relevant to human health.

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