Bottled Water May Contain Tiny Particles of Plastic
Health & Beauty / /
A recent study proved that bottled water by some brands contains tiny particles of plastic, known as microplastics, which although very small, can be absorbed by our organs.
The research conducted by a non-profit journalism organization called Orb Media, examined more than 250 bottles from 11 different brands, selling across nine countries. Results showed that “a few” of the bottles contained no plastic, while others had thousands and none of the brands came out entirely unscathed.
As Health reports, two of the bottled water manufacturers cited in the study—Nestle and Gerolsteiner—disputed Orb Media’s results, saying they found much lower quantities of microplastics in their water. A bottle of Nestle Pure Life water showed the highest levels in Orb Media’s study, with 10,390 particles per liter.
The problem doesn’t apply only to plastic bottles. “The study mostly focused on plastic bottles, but one batch of glass ones were checked for comparison. It turns out that the glass ones have microplastics too,” Andrew Mayes, from the University of East Anglia, who developed the particle-spotting technique used in this research.
Is this a problem?
Since there isn’t enough data on the effects of ingesting plastic no one can speak of the seriousness of the results of the study. In response to Orb Media’s research, the World Health Organization is now launching its own review into the possible risks.
The concern is that plastic particles such as those found in the surveyed bottled water are thought to be absorbed in our organs such as kidney and liver. The other concern is that such particles might give off toxins in our body.
A last year’s study showed that tap water around the world also contains microplastics. The particles have been found in honey, beer, table salt, and seafood, as the oceans are polluted with plastic waste.
Mayes said he suspects that “much of this plastic comes from the packaging process,” though there was no clear evidence for this. “Microplastics in the original water source cannot be ruled out, but seems unlikely in most cases because the water is either pumped up from aquifers (where it has been filtered through ground and rock, over many years) or it is exhaustively filtered and purified as part of the production process. It is hard to see how microplastics would sneak through that process, unless filters or beds are damaged in some way,” he added.
Coca-Cola, whose water brand was one of those tested, claim in a statement: “We have some of the most stringent quality standards in the industry, and the water we use in our drinks is subject to multi-step filtration processes prior to production. As Orb Media’s own reporting has shown, microscopic plastic fibers appear to be ubiquitous, and therefore may be found at minute levels even in highly treated products. We stand by the safety of our products, and welcome continued study of plastics in our environment.”
Whatever the statements and causes are, undeniable fact is that for many people who lack access to safe drinking water from taps, bottled water with all that it contains, remains a necessity.