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Tests show water was fine

Posted: May 1, 2009 10:21 p.m.
Updated: May 2, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Tests on the bottles of water that allegedly made La Mesa Junior High School students sick have found no contaminants in the water, a county health official said Friday.

"The tests that were run by our department revealed that the water was within drinking standards," said Terrance Powell, director of the bureau of specialized surveillance and enforcement for Los Angeles County.

Tests performed looked for chemicals, heavy metals and microbacteria like E. Coli, he said.

"It appears that the water is fine," he said. "Just to make sure, we are running additional tests on the water and on the open bottle itself."

Health officials will check for yeast, mold and fungus next week, he said.

Powell was unable to explain what made the students sick.

"There's been a plethora of tests, and it's all come back OK," he said. "I think the only thing we can do is exhaust the tests available."

Along with the tests run by the Los Angeles County Sanitation Laboratory, the California Department of Health Services visited the bottling plant in Torrance. Inspections found nothing of concern, he said.

County health officials visited an Aquafina warehouse where bottled water is stored and found no problems or unusual conditions, he said.

The problems with bottled water began after a La Mesa student purchased a bottle of Aquafina water out of an on-campus vending machine April 23.

The water was reportedly cloudy and smelled like bleach.

Several hours after drinking about a third of the bottle, the student experienced stomach cramps.

The school notified the students of the incident and 11 additional students came forward April 23, saying that they were sickened by Aquafina bottles of water. A total of 12 students were hospitalized and later released.

An additional five students reported similar symptoms, but were not hospitalized, Powell said.

They reported symptoms of headaches, stomach aches and nausea.

The school responded by removing all the bottles of Aquafina bottles of water from the campus April 23.

Health officials found only one bottle, which was open, that a La Mesa student said was cloudy and smelled peculiar, he said.

The liquid in the bottle was tested.

"That test, along with the tests of the unopened bottles, came back the same," he said.

Health officials ran tests on two of the opened and partially consumed bottles that students said made them ill. As a control, health officials ran a test on a bottle with the same lot number taken from the vending machine at La Mesa, he said.

The Pepsi Bottling Group, which bottles Aquafina, ran similar tests.

"They've advised us that their tests came back the same as well," he said.


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