New study claims presence of micro plastics in bottled water

A new study released on Thursday by Orb Media, a non-profit journalism organization working with scientists from the State University of New York in Fredonia claims that 93% of sampled global bottled water tested show ‘some sign of micro-plastic contamination’.

The study examined 259 bottles from nine countries and 11 brands produced by transnational companies including Aquafina (PepsiCo), Dasani (Coca-Cola), Evian (Danone), Nestle Pure Life and San Pellegrino (Nestle).

The bottles of water tested were sourced from the countries of Kenya, Indonesia, India, the US, Lebanon, Thailand, China, Mexico, Brazil and from e-commerce platform Amazon.

According to the authors of the study, there were roughly twice as many plastic particles (>100um) in bottled water than tap water, and more particles in plastic bottles than in glass bottles, suggesting that the contamination is at least partially coming from the packaging and/or the bottling process.

Samples of Nestle Pure Life brand sourced from the US had the highest concentration at 10,390 plastic pieces per litre.

The concentration of microplastic in Dasani water sourced from Kenya had 335 plastic pieces for every litre.

According to Orb Media, scientists at the moment do not know what impact plastic particles have on health. Some scientists suggest microplastics pass through the gut without leaving an impression, while others suggest that particles could be taken up by intestinal tissue.

Industry Response

The International Bottled Water Association (IBWA), the British Soft Drink Association (BSDA) as well as soft drinks and bottled water companies including PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, Nestle and Danone have responded to the study, all standing by the safety of bottled water and emphasizing quality standards and adherence with regulations.

IBWA added that “The study’s probably plastic findings are weak at best and reporting it as news is alarmist and not responsible journalism,” it says.

The bottled water industry adds that thousands of other food products also use plastic containers and that micro plastic particles are found in all aspects of the environment (such as soil, air and water), noting that there is no evidence or scientific consensus on the potential impacts of micro plastics on human health.

However, they say they will support research into microplastics, which is still an emerging field.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has announced it will review the potential risk of plastic in drinking water, saying that although there was not yet any evidence on impacts on human health, it was aware it was an emerging area of concern.

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