Research reveals that each litre of bottled water contains 240,000 nano-particles of plastic

Bottled water contains more very tiny plastic particles than tap water and therefore could be less healthy than tap water but please read on.

Research reveals that each litre of bottled water contains 240,000 nano-particles of plastic

You think that when you buy bottled water you are going to buy something pure and untouched by human hand; straight from a remote stream or spring somewhere deep within nature. You are not. You are absolutely not. It’s a myth and I guess people need to be warned about this. I’m thankful for The Times newspaper today for discussing it.

For years, it’s been known that bottled water contains micro-plastic particles between 5 mm and one micro-metre in size.

Plastics are now omnipresent in our daily lives. The existence of microplastics (1 µm to 5 mm in length) and possibly even nanoplastics (<1 μm) has recently raised health concerns. In particular, nanoplastics are believed to be more toxic since their smaller size renders them much more amenable, compared to microplastics, to enter the human body.

The study report.

However, it’s worse than that because American scientists have now discovered that on average each one litre bottle of bottled water contains 240,000 smaller plastic particles known as nano-particles.

The study has been published in the medical journal PNAS (see citation at base of page). The scientists who prepared the study said that they are limiting their use of bottled water.

In the words of Dr. Beizhan Yan, who I believe is the lead author of the study, “I’m not really asking people to stop drinking bottled water, because that could lead to huge health issues.” But his research team said that they were limiting the use of plastic bottled water.

Dr. Heather Leslie, an independent expert on plastic particles was unsure whether people should stop drinking bottled water because of the findings of this study. She said that, “It’s about deciding if it’s right for you”. Comment: I find that very strange. I don’t think you can personalise this problem. Drinking nano-particles of plastic from bottled water in their millions cannot be good and it certainly counteracts what people might think is good about bottled water. Wouldn’t it be wise to drink tap water instead?

However, she believes that it is both scientifically plausible but unproven that these particles can cause inflammation inside our bodies. She recommends caution in purchasing bottled water.

She added: “Nano-plastic contamination of our drinking water is a case of convenient plastic packaging technology biting us back. By the time the toxicology of nano-plastic exposure at this level is fully elucidated, practically every human on the planet will have been dealing with it for decades.”

Microplastics are what we know about. The smallest micro-plastic particle is 0.01 mm in size or one micro metre. Nano-plastics are smaller than that. The scientists had to use a pair of lasers to see them.

They tested three brands of American bottled water which they have not named. The quantity of nano-plastic particles inside each 1 L bottle is much larger than the quantity of micro-plastic particles.

RELATED: Amazon’s plastic pile is polluting the planet

A member of the team, Wei Min, also of Columbia University, New York (where the research took place) said:

It’s not just the pure number, but the surprising existence of plastic that we don’t expect to be there. You might guess the particles come from your bottles, but it turns out that that’s only a small fraction. There are a lot of other types of plastic, that come from may be the source of the water or how the water is processed”.

The plastic bottles are most often made from polyethylene terephthalate (PET). Some of the nano-particles were of this form of plastic. But other particles were of a type of nylon. They believe that these might have come from the filters designed to purify the water in the bottling process.

Previous research has found that there are plastic particles in the blood stream of people and in various organs.

Human health?

The scientific community accept and agree that nano-plastics are more hazardous than microplastics. But we need to know more because at the moment people are unsure about the health consequences of having tiny particles of plastic inside us. We don’t know if or how they contribute to diseases. It is being investigated. One project is in Holland called Momentum.

Tap water better than bottled in respect of plastic contamination

In other studies, it’s been found that tap water has lower concentrations of microplastics than bottled water. The scientists involved in this particular study wants to do further tests on tap water to see if the same lower concentrations of plastics also relate to nano-plastics.

Mr Yan is one of the scientists who said that he would avoid bottled waters.

Apparently, more than 70% of people in Britain use refillable bottles rather than single use plastic bottles. We don’t know whether this makes matters worse or better.

RELATED: Biodegradable plastic containers a huge step in mitigating plastic pollution crisis

The study referred to: Rapid single-particle chemical imaging of nanoplastics by SRS microscopy. Link to the study: https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2300582121 – it was published on Jan 8th 2024.

We have not yet heard substantively from the bottled water manufacturers on their response to this research. They must be concerned.

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Post Category: Plastic pollution