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Aqua Filter Fresh says recalled Tyler Mountain bottled water not contaminated

| Monday, April 28, 2014, 11:00 p.m.

A Plum-based bottled water company said on Monday its product was not contaminated with coliform and E. coli bacteria and blamed a flawed lab report for triggering a state recall.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection issued a recall on Friday for about 9,400 large jugs of Tyler Mountain Water bottled and distributed by Aqua Filter Fresh. The DEP and the company had recovered about 60 percent of the recalled water as of Monday afternoon, said John Poister, a DEP spokesman.

The DEP said water bottled on April 17 and 18 is contaminated with total coliform and E. coli bacteria.

Aqua Filter Fresh said that randomly selected bottles for the dates involved were free of contamination.

“These results, in addition to other factors, are currently leading us to the belief that the original samples which led to the recall are due to an anomaly with a contract laboratory, not water quality,” the company said in a statement.

Aqua Filter Fresh said it is replacing the questionable water.

The DEP continues to investigate if and how the water became contaminated.

“We're looking at operations. We're looking at their disinfectant system, anything that could give us a clue as to what happened,” Poister said, adding that fines could result from the state investigation.

Poister declined to comment on the company's assertion that the testing was flawed and that no contamination is present.

The Allegheny County Health Department, which learned of the potential contamination on April 21, inspected the facility the next day and found no violations or problems with treatment processes, said Guillermo Cole, a department spokesman.

The DEP conducted additional water tests at the facility before issuing the recall.

No illnesses connected to the water were reported in Pennsylvania or West Virginia, where some of the water was shipped, officials said. The 3-, 4-, and 5-gallon jugs of water primarily went to commerical customers, but some went to private residences.

Total coliforms — bacteria found naturally in soil, water and elsewhere — typically are not harmful to people. E. coli is an exception. People infected with E. coli can develop diarrhea, cramps, nausea, headaches or other symptoms. Infants, young children, the elderly or people with weakened immune systems can be at a higher health risk.

Aaron Aupperlee is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach him at 412-320-7986 or aaupperlee@tribweb.com.

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