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Plastic particles found in bottled water

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has announced a review into the potential risks of plastic in drinking water after a…

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has announced a review into the potential risks of plastic in drinking water after a new analysis of some of the world’s most popular bottled water brands found that more than 90% contained tiny pieces of plastic. A previous study also found high levels of microplastics in tap water.

While tests on some Uppermost brands of bottled water have found that nearly all of them are contained tiny particles of plastic.

After the largest investigation of its kind, 250 bottles bought from 9 different countries were examined.

Research taken by journalism organization Orb Media discovered an average of 10 plastic particles per liter, each larger than the width of a human hair.

The Companies whose brands were checked told the BBC that their bottling plants were operated to the high standards.

Those tests were conducted at the State University of New York in Fredonia.

  • See full scientific report

Sherri Mason, he a professor of chemistry at this university, conducted the analysis and told BBC News: “We found [plastic] in a bottle after bottle and brand after some of the brands .

“It’s not about pointing fingers at particular brands; it’s really showing that this is everywhere in the world, that plastic has become such a dangerous material in our society, and it’s pervading water – all of these products that we consume at a very basic level.”

Presently, there is no proof that ingesting very small pieces of plastic (microplastics) can cause harm, but understanding the potential implications is an active area of science.

Commenting on the results, Prof Mason said: “It’s not catastrophic, the numbers that we’re seeing, but it is concerning.”

Seniors have told the BBC that people in developing countries where almost tap water may be polluted should continue to drink water from plastic bottles.

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Contacted to comment on the findings, the companies behind the brands have insisted that their products meet the highest standards for safety and quality.

They also point to the absence of any regulations on microplastics and of the lack of standardized methods of testing for them.

Last year, Prof Mason found plastic particles in samples of tap water and other researchers have spotted them in seafood, beer, sea salt and even the air.

This latest work comes amid growing international attention on plastic, fuelled by the BBC’s acclaimed Blue Planet 2 series in which Sir David Attenborough highlighted the threat of plastic waste in our oceans.

The research into bottled water involved buying packs from 11 different global and national brands in countries chosen for their large populations or their relatively high consumption of bottled water. These were:

Leading international brands:

  • Aquafina
  • Dasani
  • Evian
  • Nestle Pure Life
  • San Pellegrino

Leading national brands included:

  • Aqua (Indonesia)
  • Bisleri (India)
  • Epura (Mexico)
  • Gerolsteiner (Germany)
  • Minalba (Brazil)
  • Wahaha (China)

To eliminate any risk of contamination, purchases in shops and deliveries to courier companies were recorded on video. Some packs in the US were ordered over the internet.

The screening for plastic involved adding a dye called Nile Red to each bottle, a technique recently developed by British scientists for the rapid detection of plastic in seawater.

Previous studies have established how the dye sticks to free-floating pieces of plastic and makes them fluoresce under certain wavelengths of light.

Prof Mason and her colleagues filtered their dyed samples and then counted every piece larger than 100 microns – roughly the diameter of a human hair.

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