By Carlos David Mongollón
A nearly yearlong reevaluation of impending new disinfection by-product (DBP) rules and ozonation at The Perrier Group of America, based in Greenwich, Conn., means big things for the oxidant/disinfectant’s continued use as part of water bottlers’ treatment regimen.
Perrier—the No. 1 water bottling company worldwide—declined to comment directly on rumors it discontinued ozonation of process water as of June 1 at its U.S. bottling plants.
National technical manager Kent Kise acknowledged, though, Perrier was concerned because of final DBP rules for which the effective date for bottled water was set by the Food & Drug Administration for Jan. 1, 2002, according to the July 5 Federal Register. This sets a limit for bromate, a by-product of ozone in waters containing the organic bromide, at 10 ppb. The final rule was released for public comment on March 28, and did not lower the restriction for bromate from an earlier version as some feared might occur.
Still, Kise noted, bottlers must take bromate into better account in their production processes since its occurrence is “event driven” and inconsistent. Because bottled water production involves a lot of stops and starts rather than a continuous process such as municipal water treatment, this requires more monitoring and control needs and a broader understanding by ozone vendors of bottling applications, he said.
“I would not want to send a message that ozone is a bad actor,” he said. “The point is, it just needs to be properly managed, properly controlled and more technically understood from a vendor standpoint. They need to be able to say here’s the hardware, here’s how it affects your industry and here’s the scientific testing and verification that its effective in these conditions. It’s very much an industry without a lot of direct data to support that.”
For now, Kise said, Perrier is looking at UV “as a disinfectant of choice,” recognizing it as one component of a multi-barrier system. He said ozone will continue to be an important part of the industry and Perrier’s treatment train, but may be relegated to bottle washing and sanitizing unless better control can be established to anticipate and reduce bromate formation.
GDT Water Process Corp. president Paul Overbeck—past chairman of the WQA Ozone Task Force and International Ozone Association technical committee—said ozone generator and contacting system makers are already focusing on those needs with more responsive PID (proportional integral derivative) control loops.
“So, pulling ozone completely from the bottled water process, meaning ‘water treatment and reusable bottle cleaning,’ would be a mistake,” Overbeck said. “I’m confident ozone will be used as a final rinse with high-residual ozonation as a minimum and, hopefully, a well-controlled ozone system will assure integrity of the water prior to bottling.”
Kise said one benefit is the issue has forced bottlers to integrate understanding such core competencies more into their business and pulled the ozone industry to the table to determine how to offer more consistent ozone dosing in bottled water applications.
It’s also important to note, while bromate formation isn’t a localized or regional issue, USEPA sources indicate less than 15 percent of U.S. waters are potentially affected. Thus, it’s important bottlers analyze for it and consult ozone vendors on a proper response if encountered. This is underscored by planned changes to the International Bottled Water Association’s “Model Code” to require quarterly monitoring for bromide in raw water and bromide/bromate in finished water.
Kise said another benefit of the July 5 ruling was the FDA won’t require bottled water already on the market to be pulled from store shelves, which is important considering it has an effective shelf life of two years.
On a side note, the FDA also ruled July 5 it wouldn’t issue regulations for bottled water on removal of Cryptosporidium since: 1) 75 percent use groundwater as their source (i.e., artesian well, spring and mineral water), which isn’t expected to contain the protozoa; and 2) the other 25 percent use municipal public water sources already required to treat for it by USEPA rules.
Now, there’s some pragmatic good news.