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Microplastics Found in 93% of Bottled Water

Fredonia, New York —(Map)

Scientists studied bottled water from around the world. They found tiny bits of plastic in nearly all of it. No one knows yet how the human body deals with these bits of plastic.

Microplastics  are tiny bits of plastic, which are often too small to be seen. Last year, scientists working for Orb Media said they had found microplastics in tap water all over the world. Now, the same scientists have studied bottled water from popular companies around the world and found another surprising result.

Glitter is an example of a microplastic.
Glitter is an example of a microplastic.
(Source: Knoppen (Self-photographed), via Wikimedia Commons.)

Dr. Sherri Mason, a professor at a college in New York, led the work. Her group studied 259 bottles of water from 11 different companies around the world. The tests included water from Aquafina, Dasani, Evian, Nestle Pure Life, and San Pellegrino. The scientists found microplastics in all but 17 of the bottles. Some of the bottles had only one particle. Others had thousands.

Scientists tested bottled water from around the world.
Scientists tested bottled water from around the world.
(Source: Alf van Beem (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.)

The scientists added a dye (coloring) called “Nile Red” to the water. The dye sticks to plastics and makes them show up under special light. The scientists poured the water through a filter with tiny holes. This let the water go through, but not the plastic particles.

Dr. Mason and her team tested the bigger particles to see what kind of plastic they were. Most were the same kind of plastic that is in the bottle caps. Other bits were too small to test. The scientists say they are “probably plastic”. They had to use a special machine to count those tiny bits.

On average, the water bottles had about 10 particles that were bigger than the width of a human hair in every liter. That would mean a 12 ounce bottle of water might have about 3 particles that size.

Scientists tested bottled water from 11 popular companies, including Aquafina.
Scientists tested bottled water from 11 popular companies, including Aquafina.
(Source: Diego Torres Silvestre from Sao Paulo, Brazil (Aquafina…), via Wikimedia Commons.)

Dr. Mason’s work has not been checked by other scientists yet. Two of the companies that sell the water said they also did tests which showed microplastics in the water. But they thought Orb Media’s results were too high. Other companies said that they worked hard to make their water safe.

The idea of people drinking and eating microplastics is new. The US does not have any laws about microplastics in food and water. The World Health Organization (WHO) says it will start to study if eating and drinking microplastics can cause health problems.

Scientists say that if people live in areas where the tap water is dirty or unsafe, they should still drink bottled water. But if people have good tap water, it is probably better to drink that.


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