(EnviroNews USA Headline News Desk) — Countless millions of people purchase bottled water believing it’s healthier and safer to drink than tap water. In 2015, the average American consumed about 37 gallons of bottled water, according to bottledwater.org. But now, a new report out of the State University of New York at Fredonia, released in March 2018, found 93 percent of the bottled water it tested was contaminated with microplastics, leaving many consumers stunned.
“This is shocking,” Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Program Erik Solheim told Orb Media (Orb). “Please name one human being on the entire planet who wants plastic in his or her bottle.”
Commissioned by the nonprofit journalism project Orb Media, researchers examined 259 bottles from 11 brands with 27 lots. According to the study, a lot is “an identification number assigned by a manufacturer to a particular production unit.” The bottles came from 19 locations in 9 different countries and included international brands: Aquafina, Dasani, Evian, Nestlé Pure Life, and San Pellegrino; and national brands: Aqua (Indonesia), Bisleri (India), Epura (Mexico), Gerolsteiner (Germany), Minalba (Brazil), and Wahaha (China).
“I think [the contamination] is coming through the process of bottling the water. I think that most of the plastic that we are seeing is coming from the bottle itself. It is coming from the cap; it is coming from the industrial process of bottling the water,” lead researcher Sherri Mason told Agence France Press (AFP).
The study reports an “average of 10.4 microplastic particles >100 um per liter of bottled water,” which is “twice as much as [was measured in a] previous study on tap water.” That study was also commissioned by Orb. In response to the new study, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced it would review the risks of plastic in drinking water, which the organization says up to this point are still relatively unknown with regards to the microplastics found in bottled water.
“There are connections to increases in certain kinds of cancer, lower sperm [counts], [and] increases in conditions like ADHD and autism,” Mason told AFP. “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.”
Microplastics have also been found in beer, fish, and sea salt and no one knows at this point what happens to them in the body. However, a spokeswoman for the UK Food Standards Agency told The Independent it was unlikely the amount of microplastics found in the water would harm consumers. Still, people are concerned about bioaccumulation over time in people who drink bottled water regularly.
“There is no scientific consensus on testing methodology or the potential health impacts of microplastic particles. Therefore, this study’s findings do nothing more than unnecessarily scare consumers,” the International Bottled Water Association wrote in a press release. “Consumers can remain confident that bottled water products, like all food and beverages, are strictly regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and, thus, are safe for consumption.”
The report has not been peer-reviewed or published in a scientific journal yet, which leaves it open to criticism. Still, with recent studies by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) showing 170 million homes in the U.S. are drinking water contaminated with radiation, while 250 million Americans are consuming Chromium 6 with their water, many people are wondering where to turn to get safe, pure H2O.
“We don’t even know all the chemicals in plastics,” Jane Muncke, Managing Director of the Food Packaging Forum, told Orb. “There’s so many unknowns here.” According to Muncke, the plastics could be getting lodged in bodily tissue.
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