While perusing the internet the other day, I came across this article, from a health and nutrition website, which linked into another article on the same subject. According to these articles every time I stop at the local store and grab a bottle of Dasani water, something that has been happening frequently as its summer but I am stubbornly refusing to use A/C, I am gambling with my life.
Dasani water is going to kill me.
That’s right, I guess I am marching myself down death row as we speak. I am currently drinking from a bottle of Dasani water as I write this. According to the above articles, I am ingesting the same chemical that executes death row inmates and is used as industrial fertilizer: Potassium Chloride.
Also found in my refreshingly delightful bottle of death is Magnesium Sulfate, which causes birth defects, though I am not too worried about this as I am not a pregnant woman. Thank you for your concern though, if my previous “before weight loss” photo made you suspect otherwise.
I am not going to say that these writers are not correct. They are technically correct, the best kind of correct! (I’m hoping someone else here appreciates Hermes Conrad as much as I do.) The water does contain some amount of Potassium Chloride, less than 5mg if I am to believe FDA labeling standards for sodium and potassium, and is indeed used for lethal injection as well as in many industrial applications. The reason I’m not all too concerned here is the amount in the water and the way I am taking it in. While these articles want you to think that if something can kill a person, then it is harmful in any amount, there they are very, very wrong.
Before I even get into the subject of ingesting something versus having it injected directly, let me say this: Drinking too much water will kill you. Not from any added salts or chemicals or whatnot, it will just straight up kill you if you drink too much. Life giving, necessary to not just up and die water will kill you if you overdose. So it shouldn’t be that much of a surprise that Potassium, which is also something our bodies need in a certain amount, could kill you when taken in too high of a dose.
The lethal dose of potassium for 50% of people (LD50) is about 2.5g of potassium per 1 kg of body weight. For reference the LD50 of table salt, or sodium chloride (gasp! Chloride!!!) is 3.75g/Kg. The LD50 amount for INJECTION is 30mg/kg. For those like me who are still living in a metric system challenged life, this means that if we took a hypothetical person weighing in at 165 pounds (about 75Kg) then we would need approximately 190g of ingested potassium to hit the LD50, but we would need only 2.25g injected! The disparity here actually surprised me a bit, but I think it goes to show how dishonest, or just very ignorant, it is to try and equate the toxicity of something via intravenous injection and the toxicity via ingestion. If you do this you are not trying to get me better informed about what I ingest, you are just telling me I do not want to end up getting a lethal injection, and I think I already had that one covered on my own.
So at less than 5mg of Potassium Sulfate, though I will round up to 5mg just to make it easier, I would need to drink something like 38,000 bottles of Dasani water. Well, our 165 pound person would, I would need to drink quite a few more to reach the level of toxicity that would have a good chance of killing me. Even if we were directly injecting the Potassium, we would need 500 bottles to kill our hypothetical 165 pounder. I think you would die from water toxicity before potassium toxicity if you could even get that much water in you at once. Which you can’t. Period. (Please do not try this, you will die. If you do try this at least record it so we can put it on YouTube.)
The other chemical they point out, Magnesium Sulfate, is also certainly present and supposedly added as a “flavor enhancer”. The article mentions that the FDA (which they hate) has deemed magnesium sulfate as a danger to pregnant women. They even include a link to the FDA position! Once again, they are technically correct, however if you read the rest of the FDA page you find that the cases they were looking at average to about 9.6 weeks of exposure which resulted in an average injected dose of 3,700g over that time. Unless my math is incorrect, and it certainly could be, that means they had approximately 5g of magnesium sulfate injected PER DAY. If Dasani bottled water contains less than 5mg, then I am not sure how they get the idea that 6-7 bottles a day (about 35mg ingested) is even comparable to injecting 5g per day. It is certainly not from the FDA report, at least not that I can see.
Once again if we do the math, to reach the levels of magnesium sulfate as the FDA case studies site, we would need to drink 1,000 bottles of water a day. This seems unlikely.
Now this is not to say that these two ingredients may not be somehow harmful in lower doses, just that according to the only information given in these articles as a source for why they are going to kill, the amounts are impossible to ingest from Dasani water. Yes ingesting large, huge, amounts of this water can build up toxic levels. Please allow me to mention an important point again: Drinking this amount of water will straight up murder you. It won’t need a hockey mask, come in your dreams, or get an ill-informed internet article. You will probably just die.
I will give all involved the benefit of the doubt on the amount of potassium needed to be lethal. I just assume they didn’t look past the initial headlines. The alternative being that they are intentionally misleading for some purpose, maybe to just get page views. On the surface it does seem horrific to learn I am drinking the same stuff used to kill prisoners, but once I look into it I realize it is something my body needs and uses, and in a dose so low that even if I did inject it directly into me it probably wouldn’t be that bad. (On a side note, please do not inject anything into you that is not doctor approved, regardless of what you read on the internet.) The same goes with Magnesium Sulfate. I can see how someone could see the headline that it can cause birth defects and immediately think that pregnant women should never get near the stuff at all. Again, when you realize we are talking about injecting large amounts, and in this case for a week or more, it seems less scary to ingest it in moderate and safe amounts, even if you are not a pregnant women, which once again for full disclosure, I am not. (Yeah, I know the weight loss pic is deceiving in that way.)
What I cannot forgive, though, is the manipulative way they tried to make their point on the social aspects. In the Filter Lady article he makes sure to call the response from Coca Cola the “Corporate Party Line Answer”, which immediately gives the reader the impression that this is a false and misleading statement by the corporation to confuse us. While corporations have been known to lie to protect their interests, they do occasionally tell the truth. In this case it seems like the “corporate line” is in par with actual evidence: the levels of potassium and magnesium in their water are not a health risk, at least based on current evidence. The articles do absolutely nothing to contest this either, other than to sniff at the corporate stooge and point out they are dangerous in levels found in amounts of water too high for a human to consume, though please disregard this if you are a Godzilla sized creature with a fondness for Dasani water.
They also try a neat little trick to point out other uses for the chemicals. I will quote the article here: “The majority of the potassium chloride produced is used for making fertilizer, because the growth of many plants depends on their potassium intake. As a chemical feedstock it is used for the manufacture of potassium hydroxide and potassium metal. It is used in water as a completion fluid in oil and gas operations.” (original is in paragraph 4 here.) Just because there are other uses for a product does not make it some industrial strength killer. The author brings this up as if it is a revelation, but lots of things get used in industrial applications… such as straight water. This has nothing to do with drinking it, unless we are supposed to believe Dasani is bottling their water from the leftovers at a fertilizer plant?
The thing I find despicable, and there is no benefit of the doubt to give here, is the completely erroneous introduction of Nazis into the conversation. The article mentions that Nazis used lethal injection to kill people in their horrible racial purity programs, though he does mention it was by different means than a potassium overdose. So why include it at all? The only reason I can imagine is that he thinks it somehow bolsters his argument to say that Potassium Chloride is used in some countries currently to execute prisoners, and lethal injection was also used by the Nazis, therefore small amounts of a chemical the Nazis never used in your water leads to… uh… genocide? Seriously, Google “Nazi use of Potassium Chloride” and you won’t find reams of evidence of them slipping it into the water supply, but you will find a Wikipedia article on lethal injection in general and this guy’s article. Even if the Nazis had used it, it wouldn’t mean anything. If everything utilized by corrupt and evil people were avoided we wouldn’t have much in this world. This may be the worst case of “Godwin” I have seen in a long time.
I am not claiming to be a doctor by any means, but the main point here is that if one guy drinking whiskey in his apartment on a Sunday afternoon can find the major flaws in something like this, then so can you. Please, before you hit “share” on Facebook or forward that email to everyone in your address book, take a few minutes to at least check out some of the claims being made and see if they pass the sniff test. Check the sources as well, and check beyond the headline. Just because the tagline says “X may be harmful” doesn’t mean that “X” is harmful in any amount. Sometimes it means that in certain circumstances, or in large doses it may be bad, but then again, so is water.
It isn’t even bad that people worry about what is in their food; I think it’s a good thing to be conscious of it. I have a problem with articles like this that have the potential to send a wave of panic around causing time and energy to be focused on something that most likely isn’t a problem. It would be great if we could just toss these out as what they are and focus on potential problems that are real. Just because it sounds like it “should” be true does not mean it is true. You have to check that out for yourself.