The Canadian federal government is planning to tighten regulations governing bottled water which have remained largely unchanged for 30 years. "The current regulations are outdated, not changed since 1973, with a few amendments in the 1980s," said Claudette Dalpe, associate director of Health Canada's food regulatory program.

According to a discussion paper published on Health Canada's website, since 1973 much has been learned about the impact of chemicals and biological contaminants on human health. Apart from setting limits on arsenic and lead, the current regulations do not specify limits for chemicals or contaminants.

The paper, "Making It Clear, Renewing the Federal Regulations on Bottled Water", says the government uses a set of more current guidelines to assess the safety of bottled water, but the regulations do not oblige manufacturers to follow the guidelines. The paper goes on to say that the government would like to update the guidelines and have them become legally enforceable for bottled water production.

However, Dalpe said that does not in any way suggest that Canada's bottled water - Canadians consume around 850m litres of bottled water annually - is unsafe to drink. "It's absolutely safe in Canada," she said. "We're reviewing regulations just to modernize and bring it up to speed with the current scientific knowledge."