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'Most bottled water brands are impure' - young fundi finds

By Loyiso Sidimba | 2017-10-09 12:26:52.0

Nozipho Zikhali won the microbiology category at the Eskom Expo for Young Scientists. / KABELO MOKOENA

A 12-year-old girl won gold at the 2017 Eskom Expo for Young Scientists after convincing judges that tap water was better than bottled water.

Nozipho Zikhali, a Grade 6 pupil at Manor Gardens Primary School in Durban, took gold in the microbiology and diseases junior category for her project, The Real Truth Behind Bottled Water.

"It set out to test whether bottled water is sorted and purified like people claim or if it is like tap water or worse than tap water," Nozipho said.

"Most brands of bottled water are impure, unhygienic and unsafe for us to drink and are worse than tap water."

She said a recent study had found that bottled water in the US contained contaminants.

"That made me wonder if bottled water in South Africa also contained contaminants," Nozipho said.

She conducted four different tests to determine the microbial content of the water.

"The microbial test was done three times just to see if the results are reproduced," Nozipho said.

She then conducted a pH test to check if the water was neutral, acidic or basic.

"Water can only display the conductivity level if there are ions inside the water," she said.

"The instrument utilised only detected toxic ions. And the toxic ions that were detected, [at] first when you drink them your body tolerates them but when you drink them over a long period of time they start to become toxic for your body."

Nozipho said nine out of 12 brands she tested had microbial content which was unacceptable by both South African and international standards, which state that such content should be zero.

Six of the brands had too many calories, Nozipho said.

Nozipho's mother, Lungile Shoba-Zikhali, who heads the health technology area at the Technology Innovation Agency, said she had already recommended that the laboratory used by her daughter be opened for other pupils.