Contamination of bottled water: Study reveals plastic particles

Contamination of bottled water: Study reveals plastic particles

Is it really safe to drink bottled water? A new study has investigated the contamination of bottled water with plastic particles. The results are shocking...

Bottled water is often marketed as the purest form of water. It is considered to be a lifeline in countries which lack access to safe drinking water. But, is it really safe to drink bottled water? A new study has investigated the contamination of bottled water with plastic particles.

250 bottles across 11 brands in 9 different countries were examined.

The results were shocking.

Study reveals contamination of bottled water

The bottles analysed were bought in the US, China, Brazil, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Lebanon, Kenya and Thailand.

Leading international brands in this study included Aquafina, Dasani, Evian, Nestle Pure Life, and San Pellegrino. Leading national brands included Aqua (Indonesia), Bisleri (India), Epura (Mexico), Gerolsteiner (Germany), Minalba (Brazil), and Wahaha (China). 

These are the findings of the study, conducted by journalism organisation Orb Media:

  • 93% of the bottled water showed some sign of microplastic contamination.
  • An average of 10.4 microplastic particles >100 um per litre of bottled water were found. Which means that, they discovered an average of 10 plastic particles per litre, each larger than the width of a human hair.

Scientists even found roughly twice as many plastic particles (>100 um) within bottled water as compared to tap water on average!

  • Apparently, the most common polymer found in bottled water samples was Polypropylene, which matches a common plastic used for making bottle caps.

This could mean that plastic fragments could be breaking off the cap, even entering the water through the simple act of opening the bottle, says the study.

  • Data seems to suggest that at least some of the plastic contamination may be coming from the industrial process of packaging / bottling the water itself.

Impact of contamination of bottled water

contamination of bottled water

Sherri Mason, who conducted the analysis, told BBC News: "We found [plastic] in bottle after bottle and brand after brand."

"It's not about pointing fingers at particular brands; it's really showing that this is everywhere, that plastic has become such a pervasive material in our society, and it’s pervading water - all of these products that we consume at a very basic level."

Meanwhile, in response to these findings Coca-Cola said it had some of the most stringent quality standards in the industry and used a "multi-step filtration process".

But it has acknowledged that microplastics "appear to be ubiquitous and therefore may be found at minute levels even in highly treated products".

The study's findings suggest that a person who drinks a litre of bottled water a day might be consuming tens of thousands of microplastic particles a year. The bottled water you so lovingly offered your child might be contaminated with microplastics. Hurts?

At this point of time, science is still unsure of how these microplastics might actually be affecting our health.

However, Dr. Mason has been quoted as saying, "There are connections to increases in certain kinds of cancer to lower sperm count to increases in conditions like ADHD and autism." 

"We know that they are connected to these synthetic chemicals in the environment and we know that plastics are providing kind of a means to get those chemicals into our bodies."

"Tap water, by and large, is much safer than bottled water," says Dr. Mason.

However, according to experts, those living in developing countries where tap water may be polluted should continue to drink water from plastic bottles.

Also READ: Harmful plastic toys could be poisoning your kids

(Source: Orbmedia, BBC, Business Times)

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