Standards Compliance and Health Implications of Bottled Water in Malawi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Many people around the globe prefer bottled water especially in developing countries, where tap water is not drinkable. This study investigated the quality of bottled drinking water sold in Lilongwe city, Malawi. Compliance with Malawi Standards (MS) 560 (2004) for natural mineral water, MS 699 (2004) for bottled water and the World Health Organisation guidelines for drinking water were examined. Bottled water from different 12 brands was purchased from local stores and analysed for its pH, total dissolved solids (TDS), EC, turbidity, Ca, Mg, Na, K, Fe, NO3−, Cl−, F−, SO42−, hardness, alkalinity, and Escherichia coli. A Hierarchical Cluster Analysis (HCA) resulted in two clusters in which most of the brands (92%, n = 12) belonged to one group. The two clusters and significant differences (ANOVA p < 0.05) in chemical compositions among the brands were attributed to the variations in the water source and the treatment processes. The results showed that 10 brands did not comply with the MS 699 (2004) turbidity standard (1 NTU) and the pH of one of the brands was below the minimum MS 699 (2004) standard of 6.50. This research showed that 12 brands had bottle labelling errors and discrepancies in chemical composition. The article highlighted the need for a strict inspection from the responsible governmental ministry to improve water quality and to adjust water bottles’ labels according to water characteristics.


External organisations
  • Mzuzu University
  • Chitedze Agricultural Research Station
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology


  • physico-chemical, microbiological, water quality, food safety, Lilongwe, Malawi
Original languageEnglish
Article number951
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Mar 16
Publication categoryResearch