It may or may not surprise you to learn that when you are taking that refreshing gulp of cold water from a plastic bottle you are actually taking in more than just water! A new report from Orb Media has revealed that many of the major bottled water brands you see on every supermarket shelf, including Aquafina, Dasani, Nestle and Evian all have tens, hundreds, and in some cases, thousands of micro-plastic particles floating in their products. As if that wasn’t enough, scientists still don’t know what effect these micro-particles, which are typically about the same thickness as a single strand of human hair, are having on our bodies.
The Orb study was conducted at the Fredonia State University of New York labs. The researchers sampled 259 water bottles purchased from 19 different locations in nine countries around the world. Their findings confirmed that the average 1liter water bottle had around 10.4 tiny plastic particles inside and they believe there actually may be more. Using a microscope and fluorescent dye, the researchers found approximately 315 tiny micro-particles per bottle. They think they are probably little bits of plastic, but they are still not 100 per cent sure.
93 per cent of all the bottles sampled contained micro-plastics with some bottles containing as many as 10,000 micro-particles inside a single liter. Many of the micro-particles were an exact match as the plastic from the bottle caps which suggests that flecks of cap are probably spilling into the drinks.
Bottled water companies were quick to respond to the new study. Nestle said in a statement that it has tested a range of its bottled water products for the presence of micro-plastics, and has not found any proof of their existence “beyond a trace level.” The company also noted the lack of evidence that micro-plastics have a harmful effect on human health. “There are a number of technical challenges involved with detecting intrinsic micro-plastic compounds in water samples. Indeed, testing methodologies must ensure that results are free from environmental context contamination and that they avoid the counting of false-positives related to compounds naturally present in water,” Nestle wrote. “We are ready to collaborate with others to further develop the robustness and standardization of testing methods for micro plastics.”
Dasani also released a statement, “We stand by the safety of our products, and welcome continued study of plastics in our environment. It’s clear the world has a problem with plastic waste and that too much of it ends up in waterways and in the world’s oceans.”
Aquafina had a similar statement, insisting that the way the company bottles its water is clean and subject to strict quality controls. The company noted “the science on micro-plastics and microfibers is an emerging field, in its infancy, which requires further scientific analysis.”
Unfortunately, micro-plastics are not just present in the bottled water we are drinking, they are also present in our tap water! However, the researchers in this study found that on average, bottled water drinkers are ingesting twice as much micro-plastic as tap water drinkers.