Think bottled water is safe? Study says major brands have plastic particles


Findings of a new study have found that numerous world's most popular brands of bottled water are contaminated with tiny pieces of plastic.

While some bottles had effectively zero plastic, one was found to contain over 10,000 particles per litre, according to the findings of Orb Media, a non-profit journalism organization based in Washington.

Tests on more than 250 bottles from 11 brands showed contamination with plastic including polypropylene, nylon and polyethylene terephthalate. Leading worldwide brands in this study included Aquafina, Dasani, Evian, Nestle Pure Life, and San Pellegrino. Even so, given the unlikelihood of the other materials being present in bottled water, Professor Mason concluded they were "rationally expected to be plastic".

The researchers say something about the bottling process or the packaging is at least partially responsible for the contamination based on the type of plastic that was found.

"I think most of the plastic we are seeing is coming from the bottle itself".

Countries where tests were carried out - the United States, China, Brazil, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Lebanon, Kenya and Thailand.

Nearly 93 per cent of samples were contaminated with these particles which looked like "fluorescing constellations" ranging from the width of human hair to the size of red blood cells.

The objective of the study was to establish the presence of the plastics in bottled water. Worryingly, the tests also showed an average pf 314.6 particles per liter of much smaller particles which most likely were plastic, but couldn't be confirmed as such due to the (relatively unlikely) danger of false positives.

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Using an infrared microscope, the researchers found that, for particles around 0.1 millimeters in size, there's roughly 10.4 per liter (2.3 gallons) of bottled water in various major brands.

If you included the smaller particles (6.5-100 μm), the average rose up to 325 microplastic particles per litre. Recently, plastic pollution has been found within freshwater lakes, inland seas, rivers, wetlands and organisms from plankton to whales.

There is no evidence that microplastics damage human health but the WHO says that more research is needed.

The WHO is set to assess this latest research and launch a review into the potential risks of plastic in drinking water.

Chris Tyree, a reporter with Orb Media who worked on the story about the microplastics study, told CTV News Channel that the concern about bottled water was raised by leading researchers around the world. There were an average of four plastic particles per liter.

The new Food & Water Watch report Take Back the Tap: The Big Business Hustle of Bottled Water details the deceit and trickery of the bottled water industry. "There are connections to increases in certain kinds of cancer; to lower sperm count; to increases in conditions like (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) and autism", said Prof Mason.

The result of this eye-opening research was published simultaneously in 12 worldwide news media on Thursday, March 15, and Tempo was one of the ones included, and the only Indonesian media granted the access to publish the research as an exclusive piece. "They're in the food web in our oceans, and now we know they're in most of our bottled water too".