Microplastics are basically everywhere today, including bottled water meant for human consumption, and lately, the World Health Organization (WHO) called for more awareness regarding the issue.
What are microplastics?
Microplastics are minuscule bits and pieces of plastic which made their way into water systems, food chains and even human bodies.
Microplastics can be as big as 5mm or as small as a few microns in size, virtually a quarter of the diameter of a human hair and incredibly hard to detect.
Amounts of these particles in water range between zero and 1.000 particles per liter of fresh water/drinking water.
Microplastic pollution in the oceans is an increasingly serious problem, as it has a negative impact on marine life.
The WHO is spreading awareness about the fact that microplastics are present in the water we drink, both from sealed bottles and water taps.
The WHO report
The WHO released a 124-page report addressing the issue and tried to highlight the need for better screening methods.
Dr Andrew Mayes from the School of Chemistry at the University of East Anglia welcomed the findings of the report:
“Microplastics are everywhere. They’re in the air we breathe, they’re in the water we drink, they’re everywhere.”
At the moment, ingesting microplastics is not considered a “major concern”. However, over time, the levels of microplastic pollution are expected to get worse. The WHO report states that the levels of microplastic will double by 2025 and triple by 2050. When this happens, health effects might be worse.
What can we do?
Dr Mayes said:
“For one, we can stop drinking bottled water, although the levels in tap water are generally similar, so it won’t buy you a big advantage.
“But it will buy you a big advantage in terms of the global environment.”