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plastic bottles risk in drinking water
plastic bottles risk in drinking water

Plastic particles found in bottled water

Plastic particles found in bottled water risk

Plastic particles found in bottled water  World Health Organization is to launch a review into the potential risks of plastic in drinking water.

It will assess the latest research into the spread and impact of so called micro plastics particles that are small enough to be ingested.

It comes after journalism organization Orb Media found plastic particles in many major brands of bottled water.

There is no evidence that micro plastics can undermine human health but the WHO wants to assess the state of knowledge.

Plastic particles found in bottled water

Bruce Gordon, coordinator of the WHO’s global work on water and sanitation, stated that the key question was whether a lifetime of eating or drinking particles of plastic could have an effect.

“When we think about the composition of the plastic whether there might be toxins in it to what extent they might carry harmful constituents what actually the particles might do in the body there’s just not the research there to tell us.

“We normally have a safe limit but to have a safe limit  to define that  we need to understand if these things are dangerous  and if they occur in water at concentrations that are dangerous.”

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Mr Gordon said that he did not want to alarm anyone, and also emphasized that a far greater waterborne threat comes in countries where supplies can be contaminated with sewage.

But he said he recognized that people hearing about the presence of micro plastics in their drinking water would turn to the WHO for advice.

“The public are obviously going to be concerned about whether this is going to make them sick in the short term and the long term.”

The WHO initiative is partly in response to a study that screened more than 250 bottles of water from 11 different brands bought in nine countries the largest investigation of its kind.

Plastic particles found in bottled water

The tests were carried out at the State University of New York in Fredonia as part of a project involving original research and reporting by the US-based journalism organization Orb Media.

Using a dye called Nile Red which binds to free floating pieces of plastic the university’s Prof Sherri Mason found an average of 10 plastic particles per liter of water  each larger than the size of a human hair.

Smaller particles assumed to be plastic but not positively identified were found as well an average of 314 per liter.

Of all the bottles tested 17 were found to have no particles at all while many had counts ranging into the hundreds or even thousands with big differences within brands and even the same pack of bottles.

We contacted the companies behind the brands and most responded standing by the quality and safety of their products.

A few questioned why the study’s results were so much higher than their own internal research or pointed out that there are no regulations on micro plastics or agreed methods for testing for them.

The study comes on top of earlier investigations that have found micro plastics in tap water, beer, sea salt and fish, and Prof Mason told me that researchers need to be able to answer the pressing question of whether micro plastics can be harmful.

“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.

“Some of these particles are so incredibly small that they can actually make their way across the gastro-intestinal tract, across the lining and be carried throughout the body and we don’t know the implications of what that means on our various organs and tissues.”

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