At least 25 poisoned, 1 dead from “Real Alkalized Water,” CDC report reveals (2024)

Tainted water —

What caused acute liver failure in some customers, including children, is still unclear.

Beth Mole -

At least 25 poisoned, 1 dead from “Real Alkalized Water,” CDC report reveals (1)

At least 25 people in two states were likely poisoned by toxic batches of the "Re2al Alkalized Water," including five children who suffered acute liver failure and one person who died.

That's according to a report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Thursday, which lays out the findings of a multistate investigation into the toxic water. Health investigators suspect additional poisonings went undetected. They noted in their report that hospital records indicated an unusual spike in unexplained "toxic liver diseases" around the time of the poisonings.

The toxic water made headlines earlier this year when health investigators initially linked alkalized water sold by Nevada-based water company Real Water to severe illnesses in five children in Clark County, Nevada. But the new report from the CDC offers the most complete look at the identified cases and illnesses.

Poisoned water

The saga began in November and December of 2020, when the five children—ranging in age from seven months to five years—became severely ill with acute liver failure after drinking the water. They were hospitalized and later transferred to a children's hospital for a potential liver transplant—though they all subsequently recovered without a transplant. Local health officials investigating the unusual cluster found that family members had also been sickened. The only common link between the cases was the alkalized water, which Real Water claimed was a healthier alternative to tap water.

In mid-March, the Food and Drug Administration contacted Real Water about the cases and urged the company to recall their water, which was sold in multiple states, including Nevada, California, Utah, and Arizona. Real Water agreed to issue the recall. However, by the end of the month, the FDA reported that retailers were still selling the potentially dangerous water, and the regulator tried to warn consumers directly. By then, Nevada health officials had linked the water to six additional cases, including three more children, bringing the total to 11.

Now, according to the new report, the tally has increased to 25: 18 probable cases and four suspected cases in Nevada, as well as three probable cases in California.

Further Reading

FDA slams “Real Water” linked to liver failure; water plant manager MIA

The 21 probable cases all had an inexplicable onset of liver inflammation, with no viral infection or other underlying disease to explain the illness. They also all drank Real Water's 5-gallon Re2al Water product. Most of the cases occurred in November 2020 and, apart from the children, were in people older than 30. Their common symptoms included fatigue, vomiting, decreased appetite, dizziness or vertigo, and unintentional weight loss. They all suffered from abnormal liver function, and multiple people were considered for liver transplants.

All 21 probable cases ended up hospitalized, and 18 required intensive care. One woman in her 60s with underlying medical conditions died of complications from her liver inflammation.

In May, the Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against Real Water Inc. on behalf of the FDA, alleging the company's officers—Brent A. Jones and his son, Blain K. Jones—were selling adulterated products that were made amid a slew of manufacturing violations. On June 1, the Joneses agreed to settle the case, and the DOJ bound them with a permanent injunction from ever preparing, processing, or selling water again.

Toxic manufacturing

At least 25 poisoned, 1 dead from “Real Alkalized Water,” CDC report reveals (2)
To date, it's still unclear what exactly was in the toxic water, though. According to the DOJ's complaint, the Joneses processed municipal tap water "by carbon filtration, reverse osmosis filtration, ultraviolet light filtration, and ozone filtration." Then they mixed the water with potassium hydroxide (a form of lye), potassium bicarbonate (sometimes used in baking powders), and magnesium chloride (a salt used in nutritional supplements and for de-icing roads).

Last, the company claimed to the DOJ that it used a "proprietary 'ionizer' apparatus to apply an electrical current to this mixture, which allegedly creates positively-charged and negatively-charged solutions. [The Joneses] then discard the positively-charged solution and store the negatively-charged solution."

Further Reading

Technician for water co. linked to liver failure says his dog got liver illness

But we may never know the exact step that went wrong, because—according to FDA investigations—almost everything about the company's manufacturing process was rotten. The DOJ lawsuit notes that Real Water failed to identify manufacturing hazards, implement preventative controls, or monitor for problems. The company also failed to adequately clean and sanitize its equipment and sample and test cleaning solutions—which it recycled and used to clean its 5-gallon water containers. Real Water didn't label products with production codes that could identify problematic batches or test product samples for quality.

The company didn't even have any documents of the ingredients and manufacturing process for the water products it made, which could—among other things—help ensure that excess amounts of ingredients weren't added or environmental contaminants didn't get in. There was "no written process control and/or supply-chain control procedures to ensure that the correct type and amount of chemicals are added to each batch of product water," the DOJ said.

While the mystery remains, CDC investigators note that unusual clusters of illness can be an early flag of dangerous products. When the investigators searched hospital billing codes for "toxic liver disease" or "hepatic failure, not elsewhere classified," they noted an unusual uptick in cases during October and November of 2020. "This investigation illustrates the importance of reporting unusual illnesses to public health authorities," they concluded.

Listing image by FDA

At least 25 poisoned, 1 dead from “Real Alkalized Water,” CDC report reveals (2024)

FAQs

At least 25 poisoned, 1 dead from “Real Alkalized Water,” CDC report reveals? ›

What caused acute liver failure in some customers, including children, is still unclear. Real Water sold in jugs. At least 25 people in two states were likely poisoned by toxic batches of the "Re2al Alkalized Water," including five children who suffered acute liver failure and one person who died.

What are the symptoms of alkaline water poisoning? ›

Metabolic alkalosis is a condition that can arise from a disruption of the body's normal pH through the consumption of alkaline water. This can provoke the emergence of serious health issues such as confusion, vomiting, nausea, hand tremors, muscle twitching, and tingling in the hands, face, or feet.

Who should not drink kangen water? ›

Talk to your doctor before drinking Kangen water if you have a history of kidney stones or low stomach acid. Warn your doctor that the machine uses the calcium glycerophosphate additive. Your doctor will probably advise you not to use it.

Is essentia water bad for you? ›

Essentia is purified drinking water with minerals added for taste. Essentia Water meets and exceeds the requirements set forth by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), as well as local regulatory requirements.

Is alkaline water bad for the kidneys? ›

"While alkaline water products have a higher pH than regular water, they have a negligible alkali content, which suggests that they can't raise urine pH enough to affect the development of kidney and other urinary stones," says UCI Health urologist Dr. Roshan M. Patel, the paper's senior author.

What happens to your body after drinking alkaline water? ›

You could potentially raise the stomach fluid pH by drinking a lot of alkaline water, but it would only be temporary. Even if you drank enough alkaline water to slightly raise the pH of your blood, your kidneys would quickly go into action to rebalance your blood pH.

How harmful is alkaline water? ›

Drinking natural alkaline water is generally considered safe since it contains natural minerals. However, you should use caution with artificial alkaline water, which likely contains fewer good minerals than its high pH would have you believe and may contain contaminants.

Do Japanese drink Kangen water? ›

For more than 5 decades, Kangen Water® has been used in Japan to help restore the body to its original, alkaline state.

What is the healthiest water to drink? ›

Without a doubt, spring water is the winner. It is considered the best water to drink, providing vital nutrients as it moves through the body. This is, of course, spring water that is bottled at the source and proven to be actual living spring water.

What are the symptoms of too much alkaline in the body? ›

Symptoms of alkalosis can include any of the following:
  • Confusion (can progress to stupor or coma)
  • Hand tremor.
  • Lightheadedness.
  • Muscle twitching.
  • Nausea, vomiting.
  • Numbness or tingling in the face, hands, or feet.
  • Prolonged muscle spasms (tetany)
Nov 19, 2023

Is Fiji water alkaline? ›

FIJI Water has a perfectly balanced 7.7 pH. Pure or purified water has a pH of 7. Drinking and natural water can range in pH due to dissolved minerals and gases. Solutions with a pH of less than 7 are said to be “acidic” and those higher than 7, “alkaline”.

How to tell if your body is alkaline or acidic? ›

Urine tests measure the level of acid in the body. Optimal pH levels are between 6.5 and 7.5. When the pH level is lower than 6.5, the body is considered acidic and when the pH level is higher than 7.5, the body is considered alkaline.

Is Fiji water or Essentia water better? ›

pH Level and Alkalinity

The alkalinity of bottled water can impact its taste and potential health benefits. Essentia boasts a high pH level of 9.5, classified as alkaline ionized water. Fiji's pH level is 7.7, meaning it is less alkaline than Essentia but still considered naturally alkaline.

What are the disadvantages of kangen water? ›

Weak filtration

The filter in the Kangen machine doesn't reduce levels of heavy metals or salt. This means that if a heavy metal like lead is found in your water (lead contamination in the US is widespread) then that lead will be in your Kangen water.

Is alkaline water hard on the liver? ›

What are the side effects of alkaline water? Side effects of alkaline water consumption can include nausea and vomiting. In 2020, an outbreak of liver disease was reported in individuals who drank a particular brand of alkaline water.

Is it good to drink 9.5 pH water? ›

Even if the PH is greater than 8.5, the water is still probably safe, but you may want to acidify the water if you are noticing skin problems. Lastly, whether bottled or from your own well, continue to drink water.

Can you have a reaction to alkaline water? ›

Side effects of alkaline water consumption can include nausea and vomiting.

Why do I feel bad after drinking alkaline water? ›

Possible side effects and risks of alkaline water

Additionally, an overall excess of alkalinity in the body may cause gastrointestinal issues and skin irritations. Too much alkalinity may also agitate the body's normal pH, leading to metabolic alkalosis, a condition that may produce the following symptoms: nausea.

What happens if water is too alkaline? ›

If the alkalinity of the drinking water is too high, the water can have a salty, soda-like, or chalky taste, dry your skin, or be associated with the formation or creation of a chemical scale or precipitate which would clog piping or form a scale on filters and other heat exchange systems.

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