According to a recent study conducted by scholars at Columbia and Rutgers universities, bottled water contains a concerning amount of microplastic and nanoplastic particles. The average liter of bottled water was found to contain approximately 250,000 of these particles, which were detected using advanced dual laser microscope technology.
— Nopolluting (@nopolluting) January 15, 2024
The study analyzed samples from three common bottled water brands, revealing particle levels ranging from 110,000 to 400,000 per liter, with an average of around 240,000. Notably, much of this plastic appears to come from the bottle itself and the reverse osmosis membrane filter used for contamination prevention.
Nanoplastics, particles less than a micron in size, took center stage in the study. The research revealed 10 to 100 times more nanoplastics than microplastics in bottled water, raising concerns about potential health impacts. However, the scientific community, including the study’s authors, emphasized the uncertainty surrounding the actual risks to human health.
Phoebe Stapleton, a toxicologist at Rutgers and study co-author, stated, “We don’t know if it’s dangerous or how dangerous.” The International Bottled Water Association pointed out the lack of standardized measuring methods and scientific consensus on the potential health impacts of nano- and microplastic particles.
The study refrained from revealing the three bottled water brands involved, stressing the need for more extensive sampling before singling out a particular brand. Notably, the bottles were purchased from Walmart, suggesting broader implications for commonly consumed products.
In an unexpected turn, the study’s co-authors, actively engaged in the research, shared personal measures taken after the discovery. Wei Min, the dual laser microscope technology pioneer, reduced his bottled water use by half. Stapleton shifted to relying more on filtered water at home.
Despite the alarming findings, previous reviews by the World Health Organization highlighted insufficient research to determine the health risks associated with microplastics. The study’s authors expressed a general unease about the potential perils of fine plastic particles but acknowledged that more research is needed for conclusive evidence.
As global concerns about plastic pollution continue to grow, the study’s results underscore the urgency for increased awareness and research on microplastics and nanoplastics in daily consumables. The scientific community awaits further investigations to determine the true extent of potential health risks from the ingestion of these tiny plastic fragments.
Nature has always been my thing since I was a kid. I grew up surrounded by it, and it made me care deeply about keeping it safe. After studying Environmental Science and Journalism, I set out to uncover the big stories about what’s happening to our environment.