Bottled water of top brands tainted with plastic particles

by Ben Pena March 16, 2018, 0:45
Bottled water of top brands tainted with plastic particles

Researchers found about 93 percent of the samples had plastic contaminants.

The tests, which were conducted at the State University of NY in Fredonia, found that there were typically 10 plastic particles per litre of bottled water.

Sherri Mason, a chemistry professor at State University of NY in Fredonia, told BBC, that the idea behind the project was not to target certain brands.

The research, conducted at the State University of NY, took in more than 250 bottles from 11 different brands, sold across nine countries.

Some plastic under 150 microns (0.15 millimetres) could enter the gut's lymphatic system, or pass from the bloodstream to the kidneys or liver, according the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). They were further analyzed using Fourier-Transform Infrared Spectrometry (FTIR) and identified as specific types of polymers.

Particles smaller than 100 microns - and down to a size of 6.5 microns - were much more numerous (an average of 314 per litre) and were counted using a technique developed in astronomy for totalling the number of stars in the night sky.

The study identified plastic particles in the water by staining them with a fluorescent Nile Red dye, which made them visible under a blue light.

Gordon pointed out that there's a much greater threat from water where supplies can be contaminated with sewage.

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Although it's certainly possible that underwater critters consuming microplastics may be at risk of toxicity, once again, far more work is required to understand how unsafe, or not, such microplastic particles are. Recently, plastic pollution has been found within freshwater lakes, inland seas, rivers, wetlands and organisms from plankton to whales. Given that polypropylene is used to make bottle caps, it was theorized that screwing and unscrewing the cap can shed plastic particles inside the bottle. The researchers believe that some of the microplastics came from the packaging or the packaging process.

Asked whether some of the bottled water brands included in the study had fewer plastic particles than others, Tyree replied: "There is really no one better brand, to be honest".

Sherri Mason, a professor of chemistry at the university, told the BBC that the results were "not catastrophic", but said the numbers experts were seeing were "concerning".

"What we do know is that some of these particles are big enough that, once ingested, they are probably excreted, but along the way they can release chemicals that cause known human health impacts", Mason told BBC News.

"If you've ever had chili or spaghetti and you put it in Tupperware, and you can't scrub the orange colour out, that's a manifestation of how plastics absorb oily chemicals", says Liboiron, director of the Civic Laboratory for Environmental Action Research (CLEAR), which monitors plastic pollution.

Ocean Analytics researcher Abigail Barrows, who conducted the research, said Evian, Boxed Water, Fiji, and Ozarka brands had the highest levels of plastic microfibres.

New Orb Media research and reporting shows that a single liter of bottled water can contain thousands of microplastic particles.

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