Bottled water is not only bad for the environment. It’s bad for people. According to a new study by journalism nonprofit Orb Media and researchers at the State University of New York at Fredonia, microplastic contamination in bottled water is nearly universal. The study looked at more than 250 water bottles sourced from 11 brands in nine different countries and found that more than 90% of the samples had an average of 10.4 microplastic particles per liter. That’s about twice the level of contamination discovered in the group’s earlier study on plastic contamination in tap water.
Many consumers are skeptical of tap water, which has helped fuel the rise of bottled water as the fastest-growing beverage market in the world, valued at $147 billion per year. Unfortunately, when it comes to microplastic pollution, bottled water may not be better than tap. While Orb says bottled water companies all refused to make their own plastic tests public, researchers’ testing found, for example, one bottle of Nestle Pure Life that had over 10,000 microplastic particles per liter, far above the average.
As to where all that plastic comes from, one major culprit in microplastic pollution is the washing of synthetic clothes.
Scientists now are trying to figure out what microplastic does in the human body. Prior research by the European Food Safety Authority found that while as much as 90% of ingested plastic could pass through a human body, some of it may not, lingering in the gut and lymphatic system. Waterproofing maybe?
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