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More Than 90 Percent Of Bottled Water Are Contaminated With Microplastic Particles

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Drinking from plastic water bottled could also mean drinking microplastic particles.

Findings of a new study have found that many of the world's most popular brands of bottled water are contaminated with tiny pieces of plastic.

Microplastic Contaminants In 93 Percent Of Tested Bottled Water Brands

Sherri Mason of the State University of New York at Fredonia and colleagues analyzed more than 250 water bottles from 11 popular brands that are sold in in nine countries, namely the United States, Brazil, Lebanon, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Kenya, Thailand, and China. Brands tested include Aquafina, Aqua, Bisleri, Dasani, Epura, Evian, Nestlé, Gerolsteiner, Minalba, Wahaha, and San Pellegrino.

Using Nile red dye to reveal the particles in the water, researchers found evidence of microplastic contamination in bottled water. They found that 93 percent of the samples contain tiny pieces of plastic. Each liter of water, on average, was found to have 10.4 microplastic particles.

The researchers said that the contamination is partly the result of plastic packaging and partly the fault of bottling processes as suggested by the most common type of plastic contaminant they found: polypropylene. It is also used to make bottle caps.

"Infrared analysis of particles greater than 100 micrometers in size confirmed microplastic identity and found polypropylene to be the most common (54%) polymeric material (at least with regard to these larger microplastics), consistent with a common plastic employed to manufacture bottle caps," the researchers said.

Nile Red Dye Known To Produce False Positives

Nestle and Gerolsteiner have responded to the results of the study. Nestle said that it tested six bottles of water from two of its brands and found only between two and 12 microplastics per liter.

This amount is much lower compared with what the study found. The company also pointed out that the Nile Red Dye technique is known to produce false positives. Gerolsteiner said that its tests also revealed that its products have a far lower amount of microplastics per liter than the findings of the study.

"We still cannot understand how the study reached the conclusions it did," Gerolsteiner said. "The research results do not correspond to the internal analyses that we conduct on a regular basis."

Effect On Human Health

It is not yet clear how microplastic in bottled water can affect human health. A research conducted by the European Food Safety Authority suggests that as much as 90 percent of ingested plastic is excreted by the body but there are still concerns over the potential impact of plastic particles on human health.

"There are connections to increases in certain kinds of cancer to lower sperm count to increases in conditions like ADHD and autism," said Mason. "We know that they are connected to these synthetic chemicals in the environment and we know that plastics are providing kind of a means to get those chemicals into our bodies."

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