90% Bottled Water Contaminated Globally: What Are Microplastics?
Bottled water from leading brands, including from India, have been found to be 90 percent contaminated by microplastics.
Bottled water from leading brands, including from India, have been found to be 90 percent contaminated by microplastics.(Photo: iStockphoto)

90% Bottled Water Contaminated Globally: What Are Microplastics?

Think bottled water is clean and pure? Think again!

Bottled water from leading brands, including from India, have been found to be 90 percent contaminated by microplastics, posing potential harm to humans, as per a new study conducted by Orb Media.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has ordered a review into the risks of plastic in drinking water post the results of this study.

259 bottles from 19 locations in 9 countries, including India, across 11 different brands were tested for the study. The results revealed widespread contamination with plastic debris including polypropylene, nylon, and polyethylene terephthalate (PET).

(Photo: FIT)

The brands tested by the Orb Media for the study were Aqua (Danone), Aquafina (PepsiCo), Bisleri (Bisleri International), Dasani (Coca-Cola), Epura (PepsiCo), Evian (Danone), Gerolsteiner (Gerolsteiner Brunnen), Minalba (Grupo Edson Queiroz), Nestlé Pure Life (Nestlé), San Pellegrino (Nestlé) and Wahaha (Hangzhou Wahaha Group).

Plastic was identified in 93 percent of the samples. Particle concentration ranged from zero to more than 10,000 in a single bottle.

Earlier, another study by Orb Media had found 83 percent of the the tap water samples collected from across the world to be contaminated with microplastics.

The biggest concern is that water purification methods do not block microplastics of nano sizes.

In an earlier interview given to FIT, Rajarshi Banerjee, senior scientist at the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), said:

Microplastics of nano sizes, their derivatives and absorbed chemicals can potentially pass the water filter barrier and enter ‘purified water’. 
Rajarshi Banerjee, Senior Scientist

Also Read : Does Bottled Water Go Bad?

Microplastics: Why Are They All Around Us?

On average, plastic particles in the 100 micron (0.10mm) size range - known as microplastics - were found at an average rate of 10.4 plastic particles per litre.

But what is a microplastic? And what its sources?

(Photo: Rahul Gupta/FIT)  

Also Read : Microplastics in Your Tap Water? India Ranks 3rd on the List

Health Hazards?

As per the WHO, bottled water is the only source of water for nearly 2.1 billion people worldwide as they lack access to clean tap water. 4,000 children die everyday from water-borne diseases.

While the researchers are not yet sure about the extent and consequences of it on human health, previous studies have highlighted the wide-spread plastic pollution in the water bodies.

A person who drinks a litre of bottled water a day might be consuming tens of thousands of microplastic particles each year, as per the study.
Often, microplastics or its derivatives can cross the cell barrier. They are sure to show toxicity to cellular activities, which, in turn, may gradually multiply to larger metabolic disorders/problems. These being endocrine disrupting substances, may show such detrimental effects too.
Rajarshi Banerjee, Senior Scientist

Immediate Solution

You can avoid using plastic in any form. Though the study is yet to underline specific health concerns arising from microplastics, prevention can be the only way forward for now.

Only by curbing the use of plastic can we curb the spread of microplastics. The management of plastic waste must also be regulated on a large scale.

Use of microplastic beads in daily care products or in fibres and textiles need to be restricted.
Rajarshi Banerjee, Senior Scientist

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