Health & Wellbeing

WHO launches health review as study finds plastic particles in 93 percent of bottled water

WHO launches health review as ...
In response to a study finding 93 percent of bottled water to be contaminated by plastic particles, the World Health Organization has today announced a review into the potential health risks
In response to a study finding 93 percent of bottled water to be contaminated by plastic particles, the World Health Organization has today announced a review into the potential health risks
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In response to a study finding 93 percent of bottled water to be contaminated by plastic particles, the World Health Organization has today announced a review into the potential health risks
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In response to a study finding 93 percent of bottled water to be contaminated by plastic particles, the World Health Organization has today announced a review into the potential health risks

Bottled water is detrimental to the wellbeing of our planet, but could it be having an impact on our personal wellbeing, too? A new study investigating the presence of microplastics in bottled water has found that 93 percent of those tested contained fluids that were indeed contaminated. So what does that mean for those consuming it? The truth is, nobody really knows.

The study was carried out by non-profit journalism organization Orb Media, together with scientists at the State University of New York in Fredonia. The researchers placed fluids from a total of 259 bottles under the microscope, purchased from 19 different locations in nine different countries. Eleven different bottled water brands were represented, including big names like Nestle Pure Life, San Pellegrino, Aquafina, Evian and Dasani.

For larger microplastic particles, the team found an average of 10.4 particles per liter (0.26 gal) larger than 100 microns in size. But when it came to smaller particles measuring between 6.5 and 100 microns, the researchers found an average of 325 particles per liter. One single bottle alone was found to contain more than 10,000 microplastic particles per liter. This is double the amount of microplastic found in a previous study on tap water, according to the researchers.

There are a couple of things worth noting about the study. One is that it hasn't been peer reviewed, and the other is that while all particles were detected using an imaging technique known as the Nile Red method, only the detection of the larger particles could be confirmed via spectroscopy. In any case, the developer of the Nile Red method had this to say.

"This is pretty substantial," explained Andrew Mayes, who is senior lecturer in chemistry at the University of East Anglia. "I've looked in some detail at the finer points of the way the work was done, and I'm satisfied that it has been applied carefully and appropriately, in a way that I would have done it in my lab."

The Nile Red method is gaining credibility as a reliable way to tag plastic particles in water samples. It involves deploying a fluorescent dye into the sample that then binds to plastic particles, illuminating them under a fluorescent microscope and enabling researchers to tally up the contamination. It is possible the smaller glowing particles that couldn't be confirmed by spectroscopy could be false positives, perhaps a natural material also stained by the dye, though Mayes says these could still be called "probable microplastic."

It is difficult to tell what, if any, impact the ingestion of microplastics can have on our health, with our current understanding of the reactions between its chemicals and the human body very limited. But the research does bring to light how prevalent plastic waste is becoming – millions of metric tons enter the ocean every year alone.

"What does it mean if we have this large amount of microplastic bits in food?" says Jane Muncke, chief scientist at the Zurich-based research organization Food Packaging Forum. "Is there some kind of interaction in the gastrointestinal tract with these microparticles ... which then could potentially lead to chemicals being taken up, getting into the human body? We don't have actual experimental data to confirm that assumption. We don't know all the chemicals in plastics, even ... There's so many unknowns here. That, combined with the highly likely population-wide exposure to this stuff — that's probably the biggest story here. I think it's something to be concerned about."

In response to the study, the World Health Organization WHO has today announced a review into the potential health risks of plastic water bottles. According to The Guardian, this will involve first reviewing the limited evidence that is available, identifying gaps in the research and then developing a research strategy to fill those gaps.

The full report from Orb Media and the State University of New York in Fredonia is available online.

Source: Orb Media

6 comments
xs400
Also, some non-profit should check what chemicals are leached into cooking oil packed in plastic containers; effects are like much more serious than plastic in water.
Darus Zehrbach
The plastic in drinkables applies to soft drinks and everything else like that. All of the plastics additionally leak off oils into the food. Far better to buy a home water filter and reuse the same bottle over and over.
Douglas Bennett Rogers
If they are in the same size range as gluten fragments there might be a substantial effect. The volume of gluten is orders of magnitude higher, though.
Catweazle
http://www.dumpaday.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/caveman-thinking.jpg
ljaques
I have major issues with this report. First, they only tested for plastics in the water. What researcher studies/looks for only one contaminant in a liquid? (my intuition elbows me and says "Hmmm...") Second, they make it sound as if plastic water bottles are the only source of plastics in our water, yet the contamination is only double that of tap water. (alarm goes: ding, ding, ding, ding, ding) Third, these people are affiliated with Hollywood. (alarm goes: ding, ding, ding, ding, ding) Fourth, the credibility is further diminished by one of their reviewers being from the University of East Anglia, home of the ClimateGate scandal. (alarm goes: ding, ding, ding, ding, ding)
Bottom line: Feels like Climate Alarmist funding agenda, perhaps wanting more funding for ocean trash cleanup, or the equivalence of fining everyone while it's just a % of people who are doing the littering. I'm not going to get too upset over this, even though I do keep some bottled water around. My main water source is my well and it's filtered with a Sawyer Point One filter.
KungfuSteve
Water Bottles are one thing. Why have they not checked the damages from scalding hot water passing through plastic coffee machine parts. Especially a machine thats a few years old?! Why? Because the results would TERRIFY people!