Anyone who knows me realizes that I drink mass quantities of Jermuk, which is a lightly carbonated mineral water bottled in a town of the same name in southern Armenia. At one time I was averaging around 1 liter per day, although in the last couple of months I hardly drank any because I was out of the country. And in the last two weeks I purchased only four 1.5 liter bottles, a low count for my household.
But it seems my Jermuk drinking days are over, or at least suspended until further notice. The other day I received an official U.S. Embassy Yerevan Warden Message about the FDA finding high quantities of arsenic in the stuff—about 500 micrograms per liter. I figured this was some kind of warning to the Armenian government to get its act together about governmental corruption and ensuring free and fair elections, since effectively Jermuk bottling companies could now suffer from dangerously high profit loses on export sales as well as sales within Armenia, thereby hurting the economy to a small extent just by issuing one press release. Yet, an article posted on ArmeniaLiberty.org proved me wrong.
But according to FDA, testing of Jermuk products found that they contain between 500 and 600 micrograms of arsenic per liter. “FDA’s standard of quality bottled water allows no more than 10 micrograms per liter,” the agency said. It argued that extended exposure to the poisonous metal could lead to cancer and death, but added that so far there have been no recorded cases of illnesses caused by Jermuk.
The Armenian standards, set by the National Institute of Standards, allow for up to 700 micrograms of arsenic in one liter of mineral water. But the institute director, Yerem Chakhoyan, acknowledged that Jermuk should be regularly drunk only by individuals suffering some stomach and intestinal diseases.
Not good news. I really love the stuff, I think it has a great taste and it always cures an upset stomach, not to mention it’s generally good for digestion. Now the hope is that other competitive carbonated mineral waters bottled in Armenia, such as Arzni and Bjni, will be found to have little to no arsenic in them. Arzni is a bit cheaper and tastes just as nice, so here’s hoping that my absolute switch will prove to be a very wise choice. Otherwise I’ll have to find a way of carbonating filtered tap water.
Read the full article about the dangers of Jermuk here.
Labels: Food and Drink, Healthcare