Sparkling water with lemons

This Sneaky Chemical Is Lurking In Your Sparkling Water

PFAs are linked to health risks including hormone issues and cancer.

FAST FACTS

  • PFAS are a group of artificial chemicals with known toxicity to the human body. 
  • PFAS are linked to health problems such as altered immune and thyroid function, insulin dysregulation, cancer, and more.
  • Many sparkling waters have been found to contain trace levels of PFAS. 

Refreshing, sugar-free, fun, fizzy—nothing hits better than sparkling water on a hot summer day. But not all sparkling waters are created equal. Some are contaminated with a group of artificial chemicals called PFAS that have been linked to health problems such as cancer and thyroid hormone disruption.

Before you crack open a can of bubbly, check out which brands contain chemical traces of PFAS, and which don’t.

What Are PFAS?

PFAS, or per-and poly-fluoroalkyl substances, are a group of synthetic, man-made chemicals used to create non-stick cookware like Teflon, and water-resistant clothing.

Because of their widespread use, they leech into water, dirt, and air—so can crop up in foods and beverages.

PFAS are often referred to as “forever chemicals” because they don’t break down over time. That means they can accumulate in the environment—and in your body.

Are PFAS Dangerous?

Exposure to PFAS has been linked to harmful effects in humans and animals (1). PFAS have been linked to altered immune and thyroid function, liver disease, lipid and insulin dysregulation, kidney disease, birth defects, and kidney, liver, and testicular cancer (2). While current findings are concerning, researchers note they warrant further study.

What Level of PFAS is Safe?

PFAS levels aren’t federally regulated in foods or beverages. In 2016, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued voluntary guidance for PFAS, saying combined amounts for PFOA and PFOS (the two most common PFAS) should be below 70 parts per trillion (ppt).

Many scientists and environmental groups believe these limits are too lax and suggest a lower limit of one ppt.

“The levels at which negative health effects could occur are much lower than previously understood when EPA issued the 2016 health advisories for PFOA and PFOS (70 ppt) including near zero for certain health effects,” notes an EPA June 2022 press release.

PFAS in Water and Sparkling Water

Because of their widespread use and persistence in the environment, PFAS are present at low levels in drinking water.

When put to the test, a few brands of drinking water were found to contain detectable levels of PFAS, according to a Consumer Reports study (3).

Interestingly, the chemicals were more common in sparkling waters than still. Researchers suspect this be due to the carbonation process, or tied to high levels of PFAS in the source water.

We can’t control the PFAS on the grocery store shelves, but we can control the ones we choose to consume.

Sparkling Water Brands That Contain High Levels of PFAs

None of these sparkling water brands exceeded the suggested PFA levels currently recommended by the EPA but they did contain trace labels of PFAS above one ppt, according to the Consumer Reposts study (3). 

  • Topo Chico (9.76 ppt)
  • Polar Natural Seltzer Water (6.41 ppt)
  • Bubly Sparkling Water (2.24 ppt)
  • Poland Spring Sparkling Water (1.66 ppt)
  • Canada Dry Sparkling Seltzer Water (1.24 ppt)
  • LaCroix Natural Sparkling Water (116 ppt)
  • Perrier Natural Mineral Water (1.1 ppt)

Best Healthy Sparkling Water Brands to Try

If your heart just sank a little, don’t stress. There are still plenty of widely available sparkling water brands without the potential for trace levels of PFAS.

  • Schweppes (0.58 ppt)
  • Dasani (0.37 ppt)
  • San Pellegrino (0.31 ppt)
  • Spindrift (0.19 ppt)
  • Sparkling Ice (not detected)

SHOP SPARKLING WATER

BOTTOMLINE

PFAS have been shown to have adverse effects on human health, but many brands of sparkling water contain trace amounts. To minimize your risk and avoid unwanted chemicals in your bubbly beverage, choose a sparkling water low in PFAS and natural flavors.  

1. Felton, R. (2020). What’s Really In your Bottled Water. https://www.consumerreports.org/water-quality/whats-really-in-your-bottled-water-a5361150329/
2. US Department of Health & Human Services (2021). Toxicological Profile for Perfluoroalkyls. https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxprofiles/tp200.pdf
3. Fenton, S. et al (2021). Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substance Toxicity and Human Health Review: Current State of Knowledge and Strategies for Informing Future Research. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7906952/