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Final tests show bottled water safe

Testing fails to reveal contamination of any kind to water found at La Mesa Junior High

Posted: May 14, 2009 8:40 p.m.
Updated: May 15, 2009 4:55 a.m.
 

After nearly 30 tests at four different labs, scientists haven’t found out why bottled water allegedly made La Mesa Junior High School students sick, a county health official said Thursday.

“The bottles were not contaminated. Our conclusion is that the water met all water quality standards,” said Terrance Powell, director of the Bureau of Specialized Surveillance and Enforcement for Los Angeles County.

The most recent round of tests analyzed whether the bottled Aquafina water contained fungus, yeast and mold, Powell said.

The results were negative when they came back this week, he said.

That leaves county health officials unable to explain what happened.

“I cannot explain the allegation of cloudy water and ‘off’ odors that may have been experienced,” Powell said. “Everything came back negative.

“The cloudiness of it, if it was there, had to do with the consumer,” Powell said, in light of the report that students shared the bottles of water.

The results follow weeks of testing by the Los Angeles County Sanitation District lab, California Department of Health Services and, most recently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Powell said.

The Pepsi Bottling Group, which bottles Aquafina, ran its own tests. Those also were negative, a company spokesman said.

The incident with the bottled water began when a La Mesa student purchased a bottle of Aquafina water out of an on-campus vending machine April 23.

The water was reportedly cloudy and smelled like bleach.

The student soon experienced stomach cramps. After notifying students of the incident, an additional 11 students came forward April 23, saying that they were sickened by Aquafina bottles of water. School officials removed all Aquafina water bottles from the campus.

A total of 12 students were hospitalized with symptoms of headaches, stomach aches and nausea. They were later released.

Five other students reported symptoms but were not hospitalized.

Despite the reports that the water was cloudy and smelled odd, the unopened bottles did not display anything unusual.

“The unopened bottles from the same vending machine and same lot (numbers) did not exhibit any of those odors nor were they cloudy when we opened them,” Powell said.

 

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