Physical and chemical characteristics of drinking water quality in Kuwait: tap vs. bottled water

  • Abdalrahman Alsulaili Department of Civil Engineering, College of Engineering and Petroleum, Kuwait University
  • Meshari Al-Harbi Department of Environmental Technology Management, College of Life Sciences, Kuwait University, P.O. Box 5969 Kuwait, Safat 13060, Kuwait
  • Khawlah Al-Tawari Department of Environmental Technology Management, College of Life Sciences, Kuwait University, P.O. Box 5969 Kuwait, Safat 13060, Kuwait
Keywords: Bottled water, Drinking water quality, Tap water.


Despite the extensive efforts made by most governments to ensure the delivery of highqualitydrinking water, the public lacks confidence in tap water due to pollution, bacterialcontamination and its undesirable associated taste and odor. Thus, the worldwideconsumption of bottled water has been steadily increasing. The main objectives of this studyare, first, to determine whether that the quality of tap water in Kuwait meets internationalstandards for drinking water, and second, to examine the drinking quality parametersof bottled water sold on the Kuwaiti market and compare them with the correspondinglabeled values. Forty-three tap water samples and twenty-one bottled water brands (6local and 15 imported) sold in Kuwait were analyzed for different chemical and physicalparameters. Trace metals and major ions were analyzed using ICP-MS (Bruker 820-MS),ICP-OES (GBC Quantima Sequential) and IC-DIONEX. Total dissolved solids (TDS),pH and electrical conductivity were measured using a multi-purpose meter. The resultsshow that the concentrations of major ions in both tap and bottled water were below thedrinking water threshold values stipulated by most international agencies, with exceptionof the chloride (Cl-) content in tap water, where 18.6% of the samples investigatedexceeded the FDA and WHO standards of 200 mg/L. The trace metal contents in most ofthe bottled water samples met the drinking water standards, except for the Se content intwo local brands (ABC and Abraaj). For the tap water samples, the mean concentrationsof Zn, As, and B exceeded some international regulatory values. This finding may resultfrom a number of different reasons, including the geological formations through whichthe ground water flows and substances dissolving from either natural sources or fromhousehold plumbing systems. Concerning bottled water, the labeled and measuredphysiochemical parameters of the samples were compared. Discrepancies between thelabeled and measured values were clear in most of the bottled water brands. This studyconcludes that the systematic monitoring by drinking water authorities of water qualityis essential and that a uniform system for quality control and assurance is required in thebottled water industry.

Author Biographies

Abdalrahman Alsulaili, Department of Civil Engineering, College of Engineering and Petroleum, Kuwait University

Civil Engineering Department, College of engineering and Petrolume

Assistant Professor

Meshari Al-Harbi, Department of Environmental Technology Management, College of Life Sciences, Kuwait University, P.O. Box 5969 Kuwait, Safat 13060, Kuwait

Department of Environmental Technology Mangement, College of Life Sciences

Assistant professor


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Civil Engineering (1)