The effects of Superstorm Sandy in October are still being felt months later and in some unexpected places: Poland Spring bottled water.
WMUR.com reports that health officials in New Hampshire have warned consumers about the potential dangers posed by larger plastic bottles of Poland Spring bottled water. Consumer reports are consistent with testing conducted by the state’s Health Dept. that found the presence of gasoline in some bottles of the company’s water.
Any bottle filled and sold after Nov. 1 could be affected and consumers should check bottles for the smell of gasoline before using them. Poland Spring has acknowledged the presence of gasoline in some of its large-size plastic water bottles and says that during the gas shortage in the days prior to the landfall of Superstorm Sandy, which dumped heavy rain, snow, and brought damaging winds hundreds of miles inland from the Atlantic Ocean, people began filling 3- and 5-gallon Poland Spring water bottles with gasoline to stockpile fuel.
The statement from Poland Spring reads: “After Super Storm Sandy struck the eastern seaboard in October, some gasoline shortages were reported in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, and some residents used empty containers such as large water bottles to transport gasoline. DPH announced today that test results on a sample taken from a 5-gallon container of Poland Spring bottled drinking water showed the presence of chemical contamination.”
So far, only one report has surfaced of a consumer developing health problems after drinking water from a Poland Spring bottle that was contaminated with gasoline. The state Health Dept. said it does not believe the amount of gasoline present in the contaminated bottles is enough to cause health concerns and no recall has been issued. A spokesperson for the Health Dept. said in a statement that consumers should only use water bottles for drinking water and if a bottle must be used in another manner as it clearly was needed during the storm, those bottles should be discarded properly and not recycled.
Poland Spring and state officials believe the problem only affects larger 3- and 5-gallon bottles of their water. No other reports of bottled water contaminated with gasoline have been reported but it seems likely that the risk would be present with other brands.