Bottled water contains far more plastic particles than previously estimated, study finds

Bottled water contains far more plastic particles than previously estimated, study finds

We were far from the mark. According to a study published this Monday, water from plastic bottles contains up to 100 times more tiny plastic particles than previously estimated.

For their work, the researchers used a brand new technique using lasers. They tested three water brands, without revealing their names: “We believe that all bottled waters contain nanoplastics, so highlighting some of them could be considered unfair,” explained Beizhan Yan.

The results showed that the water contained between 110,000 and 370,000 particles per liter, of which 90% of nanoplastics, the rest being microplastics. The most common type found was nylon – likely from plastic filters used to purify water – followed by polyethylene terephthalate (PET), which the bottles are made of.

What are the consequences for health?

This study, published in the journal PNAS, raises questions about the potential health consequences. “If people are worried about nanoplastics in bottled water, it is reasonable to consider alternatives, such as tap water,” comments Beizhan Yan, co-author of the study. Researchers also hope, in the future, to test tap water, which also contains microplastics, but apparently in smaller quantities.

“We do not recommend do not drink bottled water when necessary, as the risk of dehydration may be greater than the potential consequences of exposure to nanoplastics,” added Beizhan Yan.

Nanoplastics have attracted more and more attention in recent years, and are present everywhere on the planet. Microplastics are less than 5,000 micrometers (or 5 mm), while nanoplastics are less than one micrometer. They are so small that they can enter the blood system and therefore into organs, including the brain and heart.

Research into their consequences on ecosystems and human health is still limited, but some studies have already highlighted harmful effects, for example on the reproductive system.

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