Spectrochemical assessment of bottled water and tap water from six counties in middle Tennessee

Aminul Chowdhury, Tennessee State University


While fresh water is a finite and precious resource essential for sustaining life and health, concerns over drinking water quality are becoming very important. As a result, consumers are demanding and paying premium prices for clean drinking water. It is not uncommon for consumers to pay three (3) dollars for 20 fl oz (591 ml) of bottled water. Certainly, many factors account for U.S. consumers' enthusiasm for bottled water. Central among these factors include portability, safety, convenience, value and healthfulness. United States residents drink more bottled water annually than any other beverage, other than carbonated soft drinks. Thus, the overarching goal of the study is to dispel the myth that bottled water is better than tap water or vice versa. The specific objectives are: 1) To evaluate the physico-chemical constituents in 12 different bottled water as well as those in the tap water collected from six counties in Middle Tennessee; 2) Determine the fluoride, chloride and nitrate concentrations in the bottled water and tap water and 3) Conduct a comparative analysis of the chemical constituents of the bottled water and tap water samples collected from the six counties in Middle Tennessee. A total of 37 chemical constituents (elements) were analyzed using an Inductively Coupled Plasma Optical Emission Spectrometer (ICP-OES); and the obtained results were compared with United States Environmental Protection Agency (US-EPA) standards, as well as the Maximum Admissible Concentrations (MAC) reported by European Union (EU) macro element concentrations. The bottled water samples were collected randomly from three locations at each of the six counties. Additionally, water quality parameters such as pH, conductivity, total dissolved solid (TDS) were measured in all the water samples. The Data were analyzed using a Kruskal-Wallis analysis with mean separations performed by Wilcoxon Rank Sum test. The significance level used for all tests was &agr; = 0.05. The data indicate that phosphorus, silicon, fluoride, chloride and nitrate were below the US-EPA maximum contaminant level (MCL). While the concentrations of trace elements such as lithium, boron, aluminum, titanium, vanadium, chromium, manganese, iron, cobalt, nickel, copper, zinc conformed to the established values of the US-EPA and the European Union standards, heavy metal concentrations in the tap water, tend to be higher in the urban counties than the rural counties. Also the concentrations of fluoride were higher in tap water than bottled water indicating that manufacturers of the bottled water brands seldom add this element (fluoride) to the water. Key words: Water quality, Tap water, Bottle water, Chemical constituents, Heavy metals, Trace elements, Fluoride, Chloride, Nitrate, ICP-OES.

Subject Area

Analytical chemistry|Environmental science

Recommended Citation

Aminul Chowdhury, "Spectrochemical assessment of bottled water and tap water from six counties in middle Tennessee" (2013). ETD Collection for Tennessee State University. Paper AAI1552711.