At least 25 poisoned, 1 dead from “Real Alkalized Water,” CDC report reveals (2024)

Tainted water —

What caused acute liver failure in some customers, including children, is still unclear.

Beth Mole -

At least 25 poisoned, 1 dead from “Real Alkalized Water,” CDC report reveals (1)

At least 25 people in two states were likely poisoned by toxic batches of the "Re2al Alkalized Water," including five children who suffered acute liver failure and one person who died.

That's according to a report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Thursday, which lays out the findings of a multistate investigation into the toxic water. Health investigators suspect additional poisonings went undetected. They noted in their report that hospital records indicated an unusual spike in unexplained "toxic liver diseases" around the time of the poisonings.

The toxic water made headlines earlier this year when health investigators initially linked alkalized water sold by Nevada-based water company Real Water to severe illnesses in five children in Clark County, Nevada. But the new report from the CDC offers the most complete look at the identified cases and illnesses.

Poisoned water

The saga began in November and December of 2020, when the five children—ranging in age from seven months to five years—became severely ill with acute liver failure after drinking the water. They were hospitalized and later transferred to a children's hospital for a potential liver transplant—though they all subsequently recovered without a transplant. Local health officials investigating the unusual cluster found that family members had also been sickened. The only common link between the cases was the alkalized water, which Real Water claimed was a healthier alternative to tap water.

In mid-March, the Food and Drug Administration contacted Real Water about the cases and urged the company to recall their water, which was sold in multiple states, including Nevada, California, Utah, and Arizona. Real Water agreed to issue the recall. However, by the end of the month, the FDA reported that retailers were still selling the potentially dangerous water, and the regulator tried to warn consumers directly. By then, Nevada health officials had linked the water to six additional cases, including three more children, bringing the total to 11.

Now, according to the new report, the tally has increased to 25: 18 probable cases and four suspected cases in Nevada, as well as three probable cases in California.

Further Reading

FDA slams “Real Water” linked to liver failure; water plant manager MIA

The 21 probable cases all had an inexplicable onset of liver inflammation, with no viral infection or other underlying disease to explain the illness. They also all drank Real Water's 5-gallon Re2al Water product. Most of the cases occurred in November 2020 and, apart from the children, were in people older than 30. Their common symptoms included fatigue, vomiting, decreased appetite, dizziness or vertigo, and unintentional weight loss. They all suffered from abnormal liver function, and multiple people were considered for liver transplants.

All 21 probable cases ended up hospitalized, and 18 required intensive care. One woman in her 60s with underlying medical conditions died of complications from her liver inflammation.

In May, the Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against Real Water Inc. on behalf of the FDA, alleging the company's officers—Brent A. Jones and his son, Blain K. Jones—were selling adulterated products that were made amid a slew of manufacturing violations. On June 1, the Joneses agreed to settle the case, and the DOJ bound them with a permanent injunction from ever preparing, processing, or selling water again.

Toxic manufacturing

At least 25 poisoned, 1 dead from “Real Alkalized Water,” CDC report reveals (2)
To date, it's still unclear what exactly was in the toxic water, though. According to the DOJ's complaint, the Joneses processed municipal tap water "by carbon filtration, reverse osmosis filtration, ultraviolet light filtration, and ozone filtration." Then they mixed the water with potassium hydroxide (a form of lye), potassium bicarbonate (sometimes used in baking powders), and magnesium chloride (a salt used in nutritional supplements and for de-icing roads).

Last, the company claimed to the DOJ that it used a "proprietary 'ionizer' apparatus to apply an electrical current to this mixture, which allegedly creates positively-charged and negatively-charged solutions. [The Joneses] then discard the positively-charged solution and store the negatively-charged solution."

Further Reading

Technician for water co. linked to liver failure says his dog got liver illness

But we may never know the exact step that went wrong, because—according to FDA investigations—almost everything about the company's manufacturing process was rotten. The DOJ lawsuit notes that Real Water failed to identify manufacturing hazards, implement preventative controls, or monitor for problems. The company also failed to adequately clean and sanitize its equipment and sample and test cleaning solutions—which it recycled and used to clean its 5-gallon water containers. Real Water didn't label products with production codes that could identify problematic batches or test product samples for quality.

The company didn't even have any documents of the ingredients and manufacturing process for the water products it made, which could—among other things—help ensure that excess amounts of ingredients weren't added or environmental contaminants didn't get in. There was "no written process control and/or supply-chain control procedures to ensure that the correct type and amount of chemicals are added to each batch of product water," the DOJ said.

While the mystery remains, CDC investigators note that unusual clusters of illness can be an early flag of dangerous products. When the investigators searched hospital billing codes for "toxic liver disease" or "hepatic failure, not elsewhere classified," they noted an unusual uptick in cases during October and November of 2020. "This investigation illustrates the importance of reporting unusual illnesses to public health authorities," they concluded.

Listing image by FDA

At least 25 poisoned, 1 dead from “Real Alkalized Water,” CDC report reveals (2024)

FAQs

Is it bad to drink bottled water every day? ›

Contaminated bottled water can harm your health, including causing gastrointestinal illness, reproductive problems, and neurological disorders. Infants, young children, pregnant women, the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems may be more likely to get sick from some contaminants.

Why is purified water bad for you? ›

Why is purified water bad for you? The main problem with purified water is that it's too clean. There are plenty of toxins and metals in unregulated water, but there are also minerals in drinking water that we need to be healthy, such as potassium, calcium, and magnesium, according to El Dorado Natural Spring Water.

Does bottled water have harmful chemicals? ›

Could the actual bottle pose a health risk? Recent research suggests there might be cause for concern. Chemicals called phthalates, which are known to disrupt testosterone and other hormones, can leach from the container into the water over time.

What is the best water to drink? ›

Different types of water — including tap, spring, mineral, alkaline, and distilled — vary in price, nutritional benefits, and caloric intake. So which is the healthiest water to drink? Mineral water and alkaline water may be some of the healthiest types of water because they provide your body with essential nutrients.

What is the safest bottled water in 2024? ›

According to expert water sommelier rankings, the top 5 best drinking waters are: Evian, Smeraldina, SmartWater, Fiji, and Roundy's.

What brand of bottled water is the safest to drink? ›

Here is our list of the 10 healthiest Bottled Water Brands in 2023:
  • Evian. Source: French Alps. Carbonation: Sparkling. ...
  • Fiji. Source: Artesian. Carbonation: Still. ...
  • Liquid Death. Source: Mountain Water. Carbonation: Sparkling and Still. ...
  • Acqua Panna. Source: Apennines Mountains. Carbonation: Still. ...
  • Waiakea. Source: Keau Aquifer.
Jul 5, 2023

Is Dasani water bad for you? ›

The main ingredient of concern found in Dasani purified water is potassium chloride. While this additive can be harmful, and even lethal in certain doses, it is also commonly found in many varieties of bottled water.

Which is healthier purified or spring water? ›

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Environmental Protection Agency, both purified water and bottled spring water are considered safe to drink. The best option between the two is mostly a matter of personal preference, availability, and convenience.

Is purified water bad for your kidneys? ›

Pure, naturally-filtered water is the best thing you can drink for good kidney health. And installing a cost-effective, energy-efficient, and convenient bottled water cooler can be the best way to get it.

Which bottled water is 100% spring? ›

Ice Mountain® Brand 100% Natural Spring Water.

Should I stop drinking bottled water? ›

Plastic bottles are not tested in the same way our public water supply is. Some studies have even shown that contaminants, such as mold and bacteria, are present in plastic bottles. No one wants to drink unsafe and poorly regulated water.

Which bottled water does not have PFAS? ›

Waiākea Hawaiian Volcanic Water has no PFAS in any of its products, including its sparkling and non-carbonated water. In fact, Waiākea is one of few bottled water brands to have no detectable (ND) levels of PFAS in its still or sparkling water.

What is the healthiest water in the world? ›

Mineral, structured, and pure spring water are some of the healthiest water you can drink because they're clean and contain all the essential minerals your body needs. Filtered water removes contaminants but might also remove essential minerals.

Which alkaline water is best? ›

The Top 10 Best Alkaline Water Brands
  • Evamor Natural Alkaline Artesian Water. ...
  • Talking Rain AQA Alkaline + Ionized Water. ...
  • Icelandic Glacial Natural Spring Water. ...
  • Qure Water. ...
  • TEN Spring Water. ...
  • AQUAhydrate. ...
  • BodyArmor SportWater. ...
  • SmartWater Electrolyte Enhanced Water10.

Which country has the best water quality in the world? ›

Finland is uniquely rich in surface waters, and ranks amongst the best in the world for its tap water quality. It is not only completely safe but a pleasure to drink, with legislation ensuring that water does not contain substances or organisms that could cause any ill-health.

Is it unhealthy to drink water from plastic bottles? ›

Tiny plastic bits — numbering nearly a quarter-million per quart — can pass into blood, organs, and even the brain. Drinking water from disposable plastic bottles may be passing hundreds of thousands of potentially harmful tiny plastic particles into our bodies, a new study finds.

How many bottled waters can you drink a day? ›

The National Academies of Sciences is another organization that weighs in on the amount of water you should drink each day, stating that about 2.7 liters for women and 3.7 liters of water for men per day are about right. That would be about 5-6 bottles of water for women and 7-8 bottles for men.

How long is water safe in plastic bottles? ›

How long can you keep bottled water? According to the US Food and Drug Administration, bottled drinking water doesn't require an expiration date. We recommend to use the standard best practices and to consume the bottled water within 2 years from the date of manufactured.

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