The Gaza Post|The News of Palestine-Palestine
Microplastics have been found in samples of bottled water analysed from around the world as part of a major new study.
The microscopic plastic particles, which come from sources including cosmetics, clothing and industrial processes, were detected in almost all of the bottles of water tested by researchers at the University of East Anglia (UEA).
“Microplastics have been reported in tap water, beer and many other foods, but I think that people will be surprised that almost all bottled water appears to be contaminated too.” Dr Andrew Mayes, University of East Anglia Thought to be the largest study of its kind, scientists examined more than 250 bottles of water from 11 different brands from around the world and found “almost all were contaminated to some degree”.
Dr Andrew Mayes, who led the study, said: “We are becoming increasingly aware of microplastics in the environment and their potentially harmful effects, but their prevalence in other areas has been much less studied.
“They have been reported in tap water, beer and many other foods, but I think that people will be surprised that almost all bottled water appears to be contaminated too.” New method Dr Mayes and his team at UEA’s School of Chemistry pioneered a new method of detecting the tiny bits of plastic that can be ingested and accumulate in the body.
He said that conventional methods would have been hugely time consuming and prohibitively expensive, although the new technique uses dye to rapidly screen for the particles.
The study is published in the journal Scientific Reports. Separately, scientists based at the State University of New York in Fredonia were commissioned by journalism project Orb Media to analyse the bottled water. The scientists wrote they had “found roughly twice as many plastic particles within bottled water” compared with their previous study of tap water.
When contacted by reporters, two leading brands confirmed their products contained microplastic, but they said the study significantly overstates the amount. The study has not been published in a journal and has not been through scientific peer review.
Dr Mayes told Orb Media he was “satisfied that it has been applied carefully and appropriately, in a way that I would have done it in my lab”. The brands Orb Media said it had tested were: Aqua (Danone), Aquafina (PepsiCo), Bisleri (Bisleri International), Dasani (Coca-Cola), Epura (PepsiCo), Evian (Danone), Gerolsteiner (Gerolsteiner Brunnen), Minalba (Grupo Edson Queiroz), Nestlé Pure Life (Nestlé), San Pellegrino (Nestlé) and Wahaha (Hangzhou Wahaha Group).
The World Health Organization (WHO) said it would launch a review into the potential risks of plastic in drinking water, partly in response to the study findings. There is no evidence that microplastics can undermine human health but the WHO wants to assess the state of knowledge. Bruce Gordon, coordinator of the WHO’s global work on water and sanitation, told BBC News that the key question was whether a lifetime of eating or drinking particles of plastic could have an effect. “When we think about the composition of the plastic, whether there might be toxins in it, to what extent they might carry harmful constituents, what actually the particles might do in the body – there’s just not the research there to tell us. “We normally have a ‘safe’ limit but to have a safe limit, to define that, we need to understand if these things are dangerous, and if they occur in water at concentrations that are dangerous.”