Pesticides Found in Cold Drinks, Bottled Water in India

Due to popular demand following a February release of a study on pesticides in bottled water, the Pollution Monitoring Laboratory (PML) of the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) released its findings of the analysis of the contents of 12 cold drink brands that are sold in Delhi, reported an article in Down to Earth, a publication of CSE.

In a carbonated non-alcoholic beverage, water is the main ingredient. The water used to make these cold drinks is being looked at as the responsible party. However, with a lack of regulation in India, these less-than-desirable products are perfectly legal to sell despite many of them being "unfit for human consumption" according to the laws in the United States.

Each drink was tested for common insecticides including 16 organochlorine pesticides, 12 organophosphorus pesticides and 4 synthetic pyrethroides.

Atlanta-headquartered The Coca-Cola Co. and New York-based PepsiCo both showed levels of pesticide residues in their products. According to the CSE, total pesticides in all PepsiCo brands on average was 0.0180 mg/L, 36 times higher than the EEC limit for total pesticides (0.0005 mg/l). Total pesticides in all Coca-Cola brands were 0.0150 mg/l, 30 times more than the same limit.

In India, ground water is not regulated. Contaminants exist without a company being at fault for not purifying its water first. In the United States, laws are in place to regulate the quality of water not only used in bottling but also for the manufacturing of cold drinks. U.S. laws require water used for making beverages to be of the same quality as bottled water, which is a highly regulated food product by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. In addition, the Safe Drinking Water Act further protects consumers from poor water quality.


The following are some of the findings.


-Lindane, an organochlorine pesticide, was found in 100 percent of the samples with a concentration ranging from 0.0008 milligram per liter (mg/L) to 0.0042 mg/L–the later amount is approximately 42 times above the European Economic Commission's limit.

-DDT, DDD and DDE were detected in 81 percent of the samples some showing levels as high 0.0042 mg/L in Mirinda lemon, which is 42 times higher than EEC standards.

-Organophosphorus such as chloropyrifos

was found in 100 percent of the samples. Mirinda lemon flavor boasted the highest levels again at 0.0072 mg/L–72 times more than the EEC single-pesticide norm.

-Malathion was detected in 97 per cent of the samples, its concentration was highest in a Mirinda lemon sample: 0.0196 mg/l , or 196 times the EEC limit for a single pesticide. Coca-Cola had malathion 137 times higher than EEC norms.


In India, the cold drinks industry virtually is unregulated. Pesticides are among many contaminants that go unregulated. Standards for other substances such as arsenic or lead also are many times above the guidelines for drinking water issued by the ministry of urban development.

The study, "Analysis of pesticide residues in bottled water (Delhi region)," released in February by the CSE, surveyed 17 brands of bottled water in and around Delhi and 13 brands in the Mumbai region including such popular brands as Pure Life by Nestle, Aquafina by Pepsico and Kinley by Coca Cola. Pesticide residues were found in all the samples, except the imported Evian. The pesticide residues found included organochlorines, gamma-Hexachlorocyclohexane and ddt, which were the most prevalent. Similar to the recent cold drink findings.

Visit for CSE's full report.

Centre for Science and Environment

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