Worrying new research has lifted the lid on the amount of plastic in bottled water, revealing we consume up to 240 million nanoparticles in a single bottle.
It’s been long known that bottled water is loaded with plastic which could be harmful to our health. And using a new technique, have measured precisely how much we’re consuming each time we drink a bottle of water.
While testing popular brands of water, researchers counted on average 240,000 detectable fragments of plastic per litre of water. This meant that the true amount of microplastic is 10 – 100 times higher than previously thought.
The groundbreaking study, which was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) journal, shows the full extent of plastic in bottled water.
The researchers say this raises the prospect of these products causing health issues, so more studies are needed.
Beizhan Yan, an associate research professor of geochemistry at Columbia University and a co-author of the paper told AFP, said: “If people are concerned about nanoplastics in bottled water, it’s reasonable to consider alternatives like tap water.
“We do not advise against drinking bottled water when necessary, as the risk of dehydration can outweigh the potential impacts of nanoplastics exposure.”
During the study, the researchers tested three leading brands, however, they decided against naming them, “because we believe all bottled water contain nanoplastics, so singling out three popular brands could be considered unfair,” said Yan.
To get a gauge on the number of nanoparticles there are in bottled water, the team used a novel technique called Stimulated Raman Scattering (SRS) microscopy.
This technique was recently invented by one of the paper’s co-authors, and it works by probing samples with two lasers, which are then counted using a computer algorithm.
The results raise a number of questions about the safety of bottled water. When asked whether the findings make bottled water more dangerous, study co-author Phoebe Stapleton, a toxicologist at Rutgers, said: “That’s currently under review. We don’t know if it’s dangerous or how dangerous.”
“We do know that they are getting into the tissues (of mammals, including people) … and the current research is looking at what they’re doing in the cells.”
It’s interesting to see tap water now being hailed as the healthier of the two options. For years, bottled water was held up as a saviour that shields us from the ills of tap water which was supposedly unsafe.
In reality, much of this was misinformation, pushed by the bottled water industry, designed to deter people from drinking tap water. So now we have hard proof that bottled water is brimming with microplastics, it’ll be interesting to see if there’s a shift in public perception.
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