Bottled Drinking Water: Assessment of Physical-Chemical and Microbiological Parameters and Biological Stability of 19 Different Brands Available in Saudi Arabia

  • Yasmeen Nadreen

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


Bottled drinking water is a common form of water consumption that has grown in popularity and dependency. With countless types and brands available, there are factors to consider regarding the variations in mineral content and microbiological quality, and environmental consequences associated with importing natural bottled waters. Saudi Arabia is the largest desalinated water producer, and although there are scarce natural water resources, consuming locally produced water can alleviate environmental pressures, so long as local bottled water is of good quality and provides the basic function of drinking water. The objective of this study is to scrutinize the variations in bottled waters available in the Saudi market and compare local and imported waters regarding water quality and compliance with health regulations. Surveying local bottled waters revealed that over 60% were imported, adding to the environmental significance. Results from inductively coupled plasma-atomic emission spectroscopy, ion chromatography, and pH meters indicate most bottled waters were compliant with health standards. Flow Cytometry (FCM) was used to determine microbial cell densities. Purified waters, on average, contained significantly lower concentrations than other water types, while mineral waters contained the most cells per milliliter. Microbiological stability was examined through incubating samples at 30°C to promote microbial growth, and results were analyzed using an online FCM system. Purified waters had the least amount of growth and to a lesser degree than mineral and sparkling, which varied in microbial growth responses. DNA extractions and microbial community analyses were performed on select mineral waters before and after incubation. Results showed microbial genera found were similar between samples from the same country and some were unique. All samples exhibited some change in microbial community composition after incubation, signifying that certain communities thrived more than others. Proteobacteria was the most common abundant phylum among samples. Although analysis was restricted to the genera level, there were no health concern associated with types of bacteria discovered. In conclusion, local purified waters had greater microbiological quality and stability than imported waters, and mineral compositions were within the healthy range. Reducing reliance on foreign natural waters may help alleviate environmental consequences and improve local economy
Date of AwardJul 2021
Original languageEnglish (US)
Awarding Institution
  • Biological, Environmental Sciences and Engineering
SupervisorJohannes Vrouwenvelder (Supervisor)


  • Bottled drinking water
  • flow cytometry
  • ion chromatography
  • microbiological quality
  • microbial community analysis

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