Water Purifier/Mineral Water Bottle Brands are Spreading Misinformation

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Brands advertise their products to sell them. But should it be at the cost of misleading their consumers by providing erroneous information? Advertising is crucial, but simultaneously there are ethics to follow.

Spreading misinformation has become a contagious disease. Today, you find reputed brands like Kent, Livpure, Bisleri, etc., concealing critical information from their consumers while marketing their products. This blog aims to debunk these myths about water purifiers and present the actual picture.

Advertising is Sensationalism

In advertising, you always say, ‘ A dog biting a man is not news, but a man biting a dog is.’ So, advertising is all about sensationalism. Otherwise, how do you expect to attract people?

But still, consumers have a right to know the truth.

Returning to our discussion topic, know what the Kent, Livpure, and Bisleri websites say about TDS levels in drinking water.

Please refer to these blogs on the official websites of these brands.

  1. https://www.livpuresmart.com/tds-calculator
  2. https://www.kent.co.in/blog/what-are-total-dissolved-solids-tds-how-to-reduce-them/
  3. https://www.bisleri.com/blog-detail/understanding-tds-and-its-role-in-drinking-water

Table 1

TDS in Water (Measured in ppm)Suitability for drinking water
Between 50 and 150Excellent for drinking
150 to 250Good
250 to 300Fair
300 to 500Poor, not suitable for drinking
Above 1200Unacceptable

You might as well turn around and ask, ‘What is the big deal in it?’ But, to understand our point, here is what the official government websites say in the same matter.

The Indian Standard For Drinking Water – Specification (Second Revision – IS 10500: 2012)

The BIS stipulates that the acceptable limit for TDS in drinking water is 500ppm (500mg/l). It also states that the maximum permissible limit is 2000ppm (2000mg/l). The guidelines further discuss the acceptable and allowable limits for various contamination levels and other parameters.

Table 2

ParameterAcceptableMaximum Permissible
pH Level6.5 to 8.5No relaxation
TDS500mg/l2000mg/l
Turbidity1 NTU5 NTU
Aluminum0.03mg/l0.2mg/l
Ammonia0.5mg/lNo relaxation
Barium0.7mg/lNo relaxation
Iron0.3mg/lNo relaxation
Manganese0.1mg/l0.3mg/l
Sulfates200mg/l400mg/l
Nitrates45mg/lNo relaxation
Chlorides250mg/l1000mg/l
Fluorides1mg/l1.5mg/l
Arsenic0.01mg/l0.05mg/l
Chromium0.05mg/lNo relaxation
Cadmium0.003mg/lNo relaxation
Copper0.05mg/l1.5mg/l
Cyanide0.05mg/lNo relaxation
Lead0.01mg/lNo relaxation
Mercury0.001mg/lNo relaxation
Zinc5mg/l15mg/l
Coliform BacteriaNil100ml
E-coliform bacteriaNil100ml

Sourcehttps://rdso.indianrailways.gov.in/works/uploads/File/WKS-G-8.pdf and http://cgwb.gov.in/Documents/WQ-standards.pdf

World Health Organization

The WHO stipulates that water with TDS levels of less than 600mg/l (600ppm) is suitable for consumption. The water becomes increasingly unpalatable as the TDS levels increase over 1000mg/l (1000ppm).

Sourcehttps://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/44584/9789241548151_eng.pdf;jsessionid=A169DD827C178813D13D7B0E8C8ACAF1?sequence=1 (Page 228)

US EPA Standard

The US Environmental Protection Agency classifies drinking water into two prominent standards.

  1. Maximum-contaminant-level goal (MCLG) – the level where no adverse health effects are expected to occur
  2. Secondary Maximum Contaminant Level (SMCL) – a non-enforceable guideline that does not present any risk to human health

The US EPA has fixed an upper limit of 500mg/l for SMCL, whereas there are no ceilings for MCLG. It entails that water with TDS levels below 500ppm is acceptable. While there are no upper ceilings for MCLG, it should be a few times more than the SMCL.

Sourcehttps://www.epa.gov/sdwa/how-epa-regulates-drinking-water-contaminants

What do the government official websites say?

In short, the official government websites stipulate that TDS levels of more than 500ppm require people to go for water purification techniques like Reverse Osmosis. But, for abundant caution, you must not view these limits in isolation. While 500ppm is the standardized norm, you should look at the individual contaminant levels.

TDS includes salts like sulfates, carbonates, nitrates, chlorides, fluorides, etc. It also has heavy metals like lead, iron, cadmium, copper, arsenic, antimony, etc. So, it is advisable to look at these figures and then decide whether to go for an RO water purifier or not.

For example, if the TDS levels in water are 250 but the arsenic levels are 0.03mg/l, it is better to install an RO water purifier. Therefore, the TDS meters available in the market are inadequate because they do not measure the individual contaminant levels in the water.

TDS Meter to check tds in water

Where do the brand websites go wrong?

The brand websites are more concerned about selling their RO water purifiers. Therefore, they twist matters and present incorrect information to attract gullible consumers. It is not ethical. The brands might have compulsions, but that does not give them the right to withhold accurate information from their consumers.

The Livpure site presents absolute incorrect information about TDS levels that is misleading, to say the least. The Bisleri website is equally culpable of giving erroneous information regarding TDS levels.

The Kent website can confuse people because it presents contradictory views on the permissible TDS levels in drinking water. On the one hand, it gives information as detailed above in Table – 1. Simultaneously, it presents the following data that seems contradictory to what it has stated earlier. Please go through Table – 3 carefully to understand the difference. We shall provide our inference in an additional column.

Table 3

TDS Levels (mg/l)RemarksOur Inference
Less than 50Unacceptable as it lacks essential mineralsIt is right because water with TDS levels less than 50 lacks the critical minerals.
50 to 150Acceptable for drinking. The TDS levels are ideal for areas where there is industrial or sewage pollution.It is a bit confusing. Does it mean that sewage and industrial waste-polluted water is fit for drinking?
150 – 350Good, and the water is ideal for people with cardiovascular diseases.We agree, but these TDS levels should be suitable for all people.
350 – 500Fairly acceptableHere is the misinformation because the official government websites say that TDS levels up to 500 are acceptable.
500 – 900Less acceptableAgain, it is misleading because it is ambiguous and contrasts with what Kent said earlier.
900 – 1200Least acceptable, avoid drinking water with a TDS level of 900It is correct because water with TDS levels of 900 is not potable. It requires purification.
1200 – 2000Water is not acceptable for drinking.This information contrasts with what the BIS specifies.
Above 2000UnacceptableWe agree with it.

Besides, the blog informs that according to BIS, the upper limit of TDS levels in the water is 500ppm. It is not so because BIS clearly states that the acceptable TDS level in water is 500ppm and the maximum permissible is 2000ppm. It implies that BIS recommends using RO water purifiers for water with TDS levels exceeding 500ppm.

The water purifier manufacturers like Livpure and Kent have unilaterally reduced the limits to 300ppm. Thus, they influence consumers to install RO water purifiers in their homes even if the situation does not warrant it.

You can refer to our article on “Is RO water purifier necessary in India” for more information.

Secondly, the Kent blog says that WHO has recommended 300ppm as the TDS levels. It is incorrect because WHO has clearly stated that water with TDS levels less than 600ppm is suitable for drinking. The water becomes unacceptable as the TDS levels increase over 1000ppm.

The fallout of the misleading information

Government guidelines on various matters can be lengthy and confusing. So, people generally rely on the information provided by product manufacturers. Hence, these brands take advantage and twist the data to suit their interests.

For example, Kent and Livpure recommend people install RO water purifiers if TDS levels exceed 300. They rely on a simple TDS meter that can calculate the TDS levels in water alone. It does not provide information on the individual TDS levels (like arsenic, lead pollution, etc.).

  • The RO water purifiers are more expensive than UV and UF water purifiers.
  • Secondly, RO water purifiers require more maintenance. The expense for replacing the RO membranes is around Rs 4000, and you need to replace the filters every two years initially, depending on the TDS levels in the water source.

So, if the situation does not warrant an RO water purifier, why should you spend such vast amounts on its purchase and maintenance.

Moral of the Story

Brands consider advertising a medium that allows them to twist facts and confuse people. Yes. One of the golden rules of advertising is “If you cannot convince people, confuse them.”

The reputed brands exploit public gullibility and influence them to make incorrect decisions. So, we request people verify the information provided on brand websites with the government stipulations before deciding which water purifier to purchase for their homes.     

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