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.

What is the downside of drinking alkaline water? ›

Alkaline water's disadvantages are that it can decrease stomach acidity, contains fewer minerals than other types of water, and is relatively expensive.

What does alkaline water do to the body? ›

Alkaline water has a higher pH level than that of plain tap water. So proponents say that it can neutralize acid in your bloodstream. Some say that alkaline water can help prevent disease, such as cancer and heart disease. However, more research is needed to verify these claims.

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.

What is the healthiest water to drink? ›

Mineral water and alkaline water may be some of the healthiest types of water because they provide your body with essential nutrients, but simply drinking safe, uncontaminated water should be your number one priority.

Why do I feel bad after drinking alkaline water? ›

Keep in mind that the goal of alkaline water is to balance pH levels out and when you drink too much alkaline water you run the risk of having similar symptoms that too much acidity within the body can present such as nausea, headaches, fatigue, muscle twitching, confusion, and more.

Is alkaline water hard on 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.

Is alkaline water bad for the gut? ›

Drinking too much alkaline water may very well disrupt your stomach acid, which could lead to an upset stomach and indigestion.

Is alkaline water the healthiest water to drink? ›

Answer: The simple answer is no. There is not any evidence to support choosing bottled or home-treated alkaline water over safe tap water or regular bottled water.

Is lemon water alkaline? ›

Lemon juice in its natural state is acidic with a pH of about 2, but once metabolized it actually becomes alkaline with a pH well above 7. So, outside the body, anyone can see that lemon juice is very acidic. However, once fully digested, its effect is proven to be alkalizing with many health benefits.

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.

Who should not drink alkaline water? ›

Adding alkaline water could further change the pH level and disturb normal levels of important minerals such as potassium. This could be a particular concern if you have kidney disease.

What happens when you drink 9.5 pH water? ›

Boosts Immunity. Since alkaline water has a higher pH level than normal water, it can typically help with the acidity that builds up within the body. As your body continues to be affected by stress and poor diet, it can sometimes really put a damper on your immune system and its ability to work well.

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 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

Can you have a reaction to alkaline water? ›

Unless you have a kidney disease, alkaline water doesn't pose any serious health risks. The high pH could make your skin dry and itchy or cause an upset stomach, but that's about all. Just because it's safe, though, doesn't mean it does anything for you.

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.

What are the problems caused by alkaline water? ›

Drinking alkaline water is likely safe unless you have a kidney problem. However, there may be other negative effects, such as alteration of your stomach's natural pH. The altered pH may expose the human body to various microbes that the acidic juices naturally guard against.

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