A research undertaken by Orb Media group has raised serious ethical concerns about the water that is being sold to consumers in the packaged water bottles. The study reveals that other than water, packaged bottles contains high quantities of micro plastics.
Samples of 11 different brands, from 9 different countries were collected and tested for the research. On an average 325 plastic particles per litre have been recorded. The sheer number of micro plastics present in the bottle has astounded everybody. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has decided to probe further on the issue.
What are Micro plastics?
Extremely small particles of plastic are termed as ‘micro plastics’. For the above research, particles measuring 100 micron (0.10 millimetre) or smaller were examined to check the presence of micro plastics in bottled water. The presence of particles as small as 6.5 microns (0.0065 millimetres) was recorded.
These particles easily enter river beds and oceans and are one of the leading causes for water pollution. Micro plastics form after large plastic debris breaks into smaller pieces. They are commonly used in cosmetic products, scrubber, toothpaste and a range of other beauty products.
The research discovered that, on an average, bottled water contained 10.4 such plastic particles per litre.
RELATED: Another Sure Fire Method To Detect MicroPlastics In Ocean
ABOUT THE RESEARCH
- Samples from China, USA, Brazil, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Lebanon, Kenya and Thailand were examined for the study. The above countries were chosen by keeping geographic diversity and the consumption of bottled water by its citizens, in mind.
- A total of 11 brands were put under the scanner. These include Aqua (Indonesia), Bisleri (India), Epura (Mexico), Gerolsteiner (Germany), Minalba (Brazil), and Wahaha (China). Apart from these Aquafina (PepsiCo), Dasani (Coca-Cola), Evian (Danone), Nestlé Pure Life (Nestlé), San Pellegrino (Nestlé) were studied.
- Only 17 out of the total 259 bottles tested were free of plastics.
- The research disclosed that bottled water was contaminated by polypropylene, nylon, and polyethylene terephthalate (PET).
- Approximately, 90% of the plastic particles discovered, had a size range that varied somewhere between 100 microns and 6.5 microns.
- The research was carried out by Orb Media which had previously, in 2017, examined the presence of micro plastics in tap water. After comparing the two studies, it was revealed that bottled water samples contained nearly twice as many pieces of micro plastics per litre (10.4) than the tap water samples (4.45). Therefore, bottled samples had higher contamination than tap water samples.
PROCESS USED TO EXAMINE MICRO PLASTICS IN PACKAGED WATER BOTTLE SAMPLES
- Orb Media group imported packed water bottles of nine different brands for its research. These bottles were then injected with Nile Red Dye to give the plastic particles a fluorescent colour and aid in easy identification. The dye has a speciality that it does not colourise natural substances.
- The bottles were left for 30 minutes, after which its water was passed through a glass fibre. The sample was checked under crime-lite that emits light of blue-green wavelengths. It was then seen through an orange filter.
- The test was conducted at Professor Sherri Mason’s lab at the State University of New York in Fredonia.
- Furthermore, the use of Nile Dye has prompted a few researchers to question the authenticity of the test, since there are chances that the dye may have stuck itself to substances other than plastic.
CAN IT EFFECT HUMAN HEALTH?
Scientists are still unsure about the impact that micro plastics can have on human health. Stating the obvious, no one would want to drink water ‘contaminated’ by micro plastics. Furthermore, scientists speculate that small particles of plastic can enter human body and corrode the inner lining of gut.
Talking about its health impacts, Dr Stephanie Wright of the King’s College Centre for Environment and Health, said, “The particles could stay within an immune cell in the gut lining, or be passed into our lymphatic system ending up in the lymph nodes, or there is a small potential for them to enter the blood stream and possibly accumulate in the liver.”
She further added, “These are foreign hard particles which our body will obviously want to get rid of but it can’t because plastic is not degradable so that will cause harm to the local tissue. But at the moment we don’t know.”
WHAT DOES THE BRANDS EXAMINED HAVE TO SAY?
While most of the brands are mum about the accusations that have been levied upon them, there is a general consensus that the packaging of bottled water takes place as per the government norms. This, sheds light towards the fact that there is a need to review the norms that have been set by the government of various countries. Moreover, it is time to regulate what is being provided to consumers in the name of ‘safe and hygienic’ packaged drinking water.