Classification of mineral water types and comparison with drinking water standards
In a study of 291 mineral waters from 41 different countries, 9–20% exceeded the Dutch drinking water standards for chloride, calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, sulphate, and fluorine. The mineral water quality cannot be qualified as bad because the standards for these compounds (with the exception of fluorine) are not based on health issues, but matters regarding undesirable taste and possible adverse effects on the water supply system. For the mineral water data set, the amount of dissolved compounds, hardness, and chloride content appear to be the most distinctive criteria. A mineral water type classification based on these criteria will offer consumers a tool for assessing mineral water on the basis of the chemical composition data on the bottle label. In terms of the criteria mentioned, average Dutch tap water strongly resembles the Belgian and Dutch mineral waters. This similarity does not extend to the price, since Dutch tap water is about 500 times cheaper.
KeywordsMineral water Water classification Drinking/bottled water standards
The collection of mineral waters that is presented in this paper came about with the help of many friends and colleagues from The Netherlands Institute of Applied Geoscience (TNO-NITG) and the Physical Geography Department at Utrecht University. I would like to thank Geert van Wirdum for his comments on a preliminary version.
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