A team of researchers that was testing bottled mineral water for any traces of microplastic has found that almost all of the brands were contaminated with potentially harmful particles to some degree. The microplastic flakes come from sources such as cosmetics, clothing, and industrial processes, have been found in all bottles of water that were tested by a team of scientists at the State University of New York in Fredonia.
The team examined over 250 bottles of water from a total of eleven different brands from all over the world. The study was one of the biggest studies in its kind. Dr Andrew Mayes from The University of East Anglia, who reviewed 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.’
Dr Mayes and his team at UEA’s School of Chemistry came up with a new method for detection of microplastic that can be ingested and get accumulated in the body. He said that the conventional methods were too costly and quite time-consuming. The new technique, on the other hand, is quick and inexpensive as it makes use of dyes, thus allowing for rapid screening of the particles.
The findings of the team question the habits of millions of consumers. A spokesperson for the Natural Hydration Council that has Highland Spring and Danone Waters in its members said, ‘Consumer health and safety is our top priority. We would like to reassure the public that all natural source bottled water is safe and is subject to significant testing, amounting to several hundreds of thousands of tests each year for every brand of bottled water sold in the UK.’
The spokesperson further added, ‘It has to be frequently tested at the ingredient level (the source) and finished product level (bottles), and it is not released for sale until the appropriate controls show it is safe for human consumption. A recent scientific study published in the peer-reviewed journal Water Research concluded that no statistically relevant amount of microplastic could be found in water in plastic bottles. The Orb Media report has not been independently evaluated by scientific peer review and needs further investigation.’
What do you think about this whole situation?