Occurrence of microplastics in commercially sold bottled water, published in the journal ScienceDirect, 2023.
The study was conducted by researchers from the University of Stirling in the United Kingdom. The study analysed 259 samples of bottled water from 19 countries.
The results showed that the average microplastic abundance in bottled water was 72.32 ± 44.64 items/L, which was higher than that detected in tap water (49.67 ± 17.49 items/L).
The most common type of microplastic found in bottled water was fibres (65.20%), followed by fragments (27.60%) and films (7.20%).
The most common polymers found in bottled water were polyethylene (PE) (48.80%), followed by polypropylene (PP) (28.20%), and polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) (12.80%).
The study also estimated the daily intake of microplastics (EDI) by infants through bottled water and tap water.
The results showed that the EDI for infants through bottled water was 0.59 ± 0.43 mg/day, which was almost twice as high as that through tap water (0.31 ± 0.23 mg/day).
Studies suggest that exposure to microplastics may be associated with a number of health risks, including:
- Inflammation: Microplastics can cause inflammation in the body, which can lead to a number of health problems, such as heart disease, stroke, and cancer.
- Reproductive problems: Microplastics can disrupt the endocrine system, which can lead to reproductive problems, such as infertility and miscarriage.
- Neurological problems: Microplastics can damage the nervous system, which can lead to neurological problems, such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.
- Immune system problems: Microplastics can weaken the immune system, which can make people more susceptible to infection.
- Cancer: Microplastics can contain harmful chemicals that can cause cancer.
It is important to note that more research is needed to confirm these findings. However, the available evidence suggests that exposure to microplastics may pose a serious health risk.
Ways to reduce microplastic consumption:
- Use filtered tap water. This is the best way to reduce your exposure to microplastics. There are many different types of water filters available, so you can choose one that fits your needs and budget.
- Avoid drinking bottled water. If you can, try to avoid drinking bottled water altogether. This is especially important for infants and children, who are more likely to be exposed to microplastics.
- Use Silicone or Stainless Steel Containers. When giving your child water, use tap water and put it into a silicone (BPA Free) or stainless steel container.
- Support companies that are working to reduce the amount of microplastics in their products. There are a number of companies that are working to reduce the amount of microplastics in their products. You can support these companies by buying their products.
In addition to the above, we need to look long-term and reducing the amount in our water supply. We can achieve this through:
- Avoid microbeads in personal care products. Microbeads are small plastic beads that are often found in facial scrubs, body washes, and toothpaste. These beads can end up in the ocean and waterways, where they can be ingested by marine life.
- Recycle plastic whenever possible. This will help to reduce the amount of plastic that ends up in landfills and the environment.
- Reduce your consumption of single-use plastics. Single-use plastics are plastics that are used only once and then thrown away. These plastics can end up in the environment, where they can break down into microplastics.
- Microplastics and Human Health: A Review of Current Literature (2022): https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7457999/
- Health Effects of Microplastic Exposures: Current Issues and Perspectives in South Korea (2022): https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10151227/
- A Detailed Review Study on Potential Effects of Microplastics and Additives of Concern on Human Health (2021): https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7068600/
- Where is the evidence that human exposure to microplastics is safe? (2021): https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7319653/
- Human Microplastics Exposure and Potential Health Risks to Target Organs by Different Routes: A Review (2023): https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s40726-023-00273-8