Most bottled water contains tiny pieces of plastic

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More than 90% of bottled water bottles contain tiny pieces of plastic that the consumer unknowingly swallows, according to a new international study, the largest of its kind to date.

These microplastics are almost double in quantity compared to those found in tap water and are even found in popular products of well-known companies.

Researchers at New York State University, led by chemistry professor Sherry Mason, who have not yet made a scientific publication (which is a weak point of their study), conducted the research on behalf of the journalism organization Orb Media, according to BBC and the Guardian.

They analyzed samples from 259 water bottles from nine countries and 11 different brands, discovering an average of ten plastic particles larger than the width of a human hair, more than 100 micrometers (millionths of a millimeter). An average of 314 microparticles of possible (but not certain) microplastics were also detected for each liter of water, with a particle size of 6,5 to 100 micrometers.

In some bottles the particle concentrations reached up to 10.000 pieces per liter. Of the 259 bottles inspected, only 17 contained no traces of plastic. The most common type of plastic in bottled water was polypropylene, which is also used in plastic bottle caps.

The bottles were purchased in the following countries: USA, China, Brazil, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Lebanon, Kenya and Thailand.

The brands analyzed were: Aqua (Danone), Aquafina (PepsiCo), Bisleri (Bisleri International), Dasani (Coca-Cola), Epura (PepsiCo), Evian (Danone), Gerolsteiner (Gerolsteiner Brunnen), Minalba (Grupo Edson Queiroz), Nestle Pure Life, San Pellegrino and Wahaha (Hangzhou Wahaha Group).

A second study, unrelated to the first, conducted in the United States by Story of Stuff and examining 19 different brands of bottled water, also found a large presence of plastic microfibers. The researchers said that microplastics are also transported through the air, so they can be present in bottling plants and thus pierce the bottles.

The reaction of companies

The companies responded by saying that their products meet the highest standards of quality and safety.

Nestle criticized the methodology of the first research, saying that it could lead to "false positive" results, while Danone said that the study uses a method of analysis that is "vague".

On the other hand, Coca Cola pointed out that microplastics are ubiquitous in the environment, so "they are likely to be found at microscopic levels even in highly protected products." And PepsiCo assured that its products are "reliably safe".

Gerolsteiner also did not rule out the existence of microplastics in bottled water, which come either from the air or from the bottling process. He stressed, however, that they are in lower concentrations than in medicinal products.

"The point is not to point fingers at specific brands, but to show that plastics are everywhere, they have become such a widespread material in our society, that it penetrates into water, in all these products that we consume at a very basic level." said Mason.

So far there is no evidence that human consumption of these microplastics causes harm, but the issue is the subject of scientific studies. Previous studies have discovered microplastics in tap water, but also in many other products, such as seafood, salt, beers, etc.

Source: RES-EAP