In our latest effort to test products for heavy metals and other contaminants, we recently acquired ice water from multiple fast food chains, including Whataburger, Jack in the Box, McDonald’s, Taco Bell, Burger King and more.
Using our mass spec laboratory instrumentation (ICP-MS), we tested all these water samples for heavy metals.
Surprisingly high levels of copper in some samples
What we found was extremely interesting.
We didn’t find any lead, mercury, cadmium or arsenic in the water samples, but we did find surprisingly high levels of copper, a trace metal that’s regulated by the EPA in drinking water due to its toxicity at high concentrations.
The EPA’s limit on copper in drinking water is 1,300 ppb (ng / ml). We didn’t find any water samples that violate EPA regulations, but we did find 351 ppb of copper in Dairy Queen water. We also found concerning levels of copper in water samples from other fast food restaurants.
Copper is a trace metal that, in high concentrations, can cause mental disorders such as schizophrenia. A small amount of copper is necessary for good health, but too much copper intake over a long period of time can lead to serious neurological health problems.
As I mention in the video, most of these fast food restaurants are independently owned franchise operations, and because they’re connected to local water systems, results will vary widely across the country.
Just because one Dairy Queen near Austin Texas has 351 ppb of copper doesn’t mean any other Dairy Queen would have the same results, so don’t mistakenly think these numbers represent a nationwide survey of fast food water. Rather, they represent a “snapshot” of water quality from fast food restaurants near Austin, Texas.
What was the cleanest fast food water we tested? One water sample was so clean, it looks like the restaurant is actually filtering the water. To find out which fast food restaurant seems to be filtering its water, watch the full video here:
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