Potentially fatal levels of sodium fluoride found in a Niagara brand water bottle purchased in Riverside County prompted the state Department of Health Services to issue a public warning Thursday and the company began a four-county recall.
“Two families have reported a total of four illnesses, which may be attributable to consumption of the contaminated water,” state Health Director Kenneth W. Kizer said. “Tests by a Department of Health Services’ laboratory found fluoride ion at levels of 450 parts per million in the water containers taken from the families.
“Consumption of these high levels . . . in water could produce stomachache, nausea, vomiting, serious illness, or even death.”
The families, who were not identified, both purchased 2 1/2-gallon containers of Niagara Drinking Water at the Food 4 Less market near Riverside, the health agency said in a statement. Tests of other 2 1/2-gallon containers at the market proved negative.
As a result, Niagara instituted a recall of all of its 2 1/2-gallon containers from distribution in Riverside, Orange, San Diego and San Bernardino counties, the only California counties where the water is distributed. Kizer warned consumers to return the water to the retail store where it was purchased.
Sodium fluoride is added sometimes to water in small amounts to help prevent tooth decay.
The contaminated water has no appreciable odor or discoloration, but may have a foul taste, the health agency said in a statement. The source of the contamination was unknown, but the incident appeared to be isolated.