New Study Finds Microplastic Contamination in Most Bottled Water
Water is a fundamental part of human life and for some people around the world bottled water is the only safe water available to them.
Scientists from the State University of New York worked with non-profit journalism organisation, Orb Media, to conduct a study on bottled water. More than 250 samples from 9 different countries were used for this study and Nile Red dye was used to identify microplastics in the water.
The study found an average of 325 plastic particles for every litre of water being sold (The Guardian); it is indicated that these particles get in the water during the manufacturing and packaging processes as the water itself, from source or filtered, is pure. Previous studies have shown microplastics are also found in tap water but bottled water samples contained nearly twice as many pieces of microplastics per litre (10.4) than the tap water samples (4.45) (Orb Media).
This study is the largest investigation of its kind and more research is still needed, World Health Organisation (WHO) told the BBC it’s launching own review. Bruce Gordon (coordinator of the WHO’s global work on water and sanitation) said "The public are obviously going to be concerned about whether this is going to make them sick in the short term and the long term." (BBC). This study shows our reliance on plastic and how finding alternatives, such as having water outlets for reusable bottles and having the option to produce water onsite is key.
Currently there are no specific laws in the EU or the US for microplastics in food and drink as at present it is unknown what effect ingesting microplastics has on human health; additionally, studies have shown that microplastics are present in nearly every environment on Earth (Live Science). There are however arguments that there are potential health risks as microplastics may be absorbed into our organs, such as the liver and kidneys (Fortune); also the European Food Safety Authority states that microplastics may end up lodged in the gut, or traveling through the lymphatic system (EFSA).
For those who lack access to a safe drinking water supply and must rely on bottled water for potable water this could cause concern which highlights why it is important we keep innovating and finding new solutions to access water.
Hogen Systems Ltd has developed a range of Atmospheric Water Generators (AWGs) that extract the water from the surrounding air and render it safe for drinking in almost any location around the world. By creating water directly onsite, the need for bottling plants and additional plastic is removed which takes away the risk of microplastics in the water but also helps us move a step towards being less dependent on plastic. Plastic waste, particularly in the ocean, is a huge problem, it’s estimated the total weight of plastic in our oceans will exceed that of fish by 2050 (The Guardian); by reducing the amount of plastic the world uses we can help the environment and reduce the effects of climate change.
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