Top bottled water brands contaminated with plastic particles: report

March 15, 2018 by Kerry Sheridan
Plastic was identified in 93 percent of the samples included in the study, which included major name brands such as Aqua, Aquafina, Dasani, Evian, Nestle Pure Life and San Pellegrino

The world's leading brands of bottled water are contaminated with tiny plastic particles that are likely seeping in during the packaging process, according to a major study across nine countries published Wednesday.

"Widespread contamination" with plastic was found in the study, led by microplastic researcher Sherri Mason of the State University of New York at Fredonia, according to a summary released by Orb Media, a US-based non-profit media collective.

Researchers tested 250 bottles of water in Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Lebanon, Mexico, Thailand and the United States.

Plastic was identified in 93 percent of the samples, which included major name brands such as Aqua, Aquafina, Dasani, Evian, Nestle Pure Life and San Pellegrino.

The plastic debris included nylon, polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and polypropylene, which is used to make bottle caps.

"In this study, 65 percent of the particles we found were actually fragments and not fibers," Mason told AFP.

"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."

Particle concentration ranged from "zero to more than 10,000 likely plastic particles in a single bottle," said the report.

On average, plastic particles in the 100 micron (0.10 millimeter) size range—considered "microplastics"—were found at an average rate of 10.4 plastic particles per liter.

Even smaller particles were more common—averaging about 325 per liter.

Other brands that were found to contain plastic contaminated included Bisleri, Epura, Gerolsteiner, Minalba and Wahaha.

Experts cautioned that the extent of the risk to human health posed by such contamination remains unclear.

"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."

Time to ditch plastic?

Previous research by Orb Media has found plastic particles in tap water, too, but on a smaller scale.

"Tap water, by and large, is much safer than bottled water," said Mason.

The three-month study used a technique developed by the University of East Anglia's School of Chemistry to "see" microplastic particles by staining them using fluorescent Nile Red dye, which makes plastic fluorescent when irradiated with blue light.

"We have been involved with independently reviewing the findings and methodology to ensure the study is robust and credible," said lead researcher Andrew Mayes, from UEA's School of Chemistry.

"The results stack up."

However, representatives from the bottled water industry took issue with the findings, saying they were not peer-reviewed and "not based on sound science," according to a statement from the International Bottled Water Association.

"A recent scientific study published in the peer-reviewed journal Water Research in February 2018 concluded that no statistically relevant amount of microplastic can be found in water in single-use plastic bottles," it added.

"There is no scientific consensus on the potential health impacts of microplastic particles. The data on the topic is limited and conclusions differ dramatically from one study to another."

Jacqueline Savitz, chief policy officer for North America at Oceana, a marine advocacy group that was not involved in the research, said the study provides more evidence that society must abandon the ubiquitous use of plastic water bottles.

"We know plastics are building up in marine animals, and this means we too are being exposed, some of us every day," she said.

"It's more urgent now than ever before to make plastic water bottles a thing of the past."

Explore further: Your tap water may contain plastic, researchers warn (Update)

More information: Thomas Maes et al. A rapid-screening approach to detect and quantify microplastics based on fluorescent tagging with Nile Red, Scientific Reports (2017). DOI: 10.1038/srep44501 ,

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1.8 / 5 (13) Mar 15, 2018
This is crap science by people trying to get published. They are targeting bottled water even though it's a characteristic of all foods to contain extremely small amounts of whatever they are packaged in. Every material sheds molecules when it is handled by machines or people. Packages abrade and always have right back to ancient clay pots. Milk contains microscope particles of the bottle or carton. Meat contains particles abraded from the plastic wrap and the soft foam tray it is sold in. Cereal contains particles of the plastic bag and the cardboard box it came in. Food also contains molecules from the machines that manufactured, washed or handled it. When you cut a tomato with a knife, you leave microscopic molecules of metal in it. Cooking leaves molecules from the pan in the food. Everything wears out, period. Even glass. It's unavoidable. So, plastic particles in bottled water is a moot point and is preferable to bacteria and dirt. Stop causing panic.
3.9 / 5 (14) Mar 15, 2018
This article is not about molecules.
3 / 5 (3) Mar 15, 2018
no mention of pop, or any other substance sold with these same bottle caps.
why i switched to berkey buddy :D
5 / 5 (4) Mar 15, 2018
no mention of pop, or any other substance sold with these same bottle caps.

Since the processes/machines to make these are the same (because the companies that make these are the same and use the same water as the basis for their sodas) I would expect this extends to most, if not all, beverages in plastic bottles.

Oh well...back to hauling glass, I guess.
5 / 5 (1) Mar 15, 2018
Humanity is making great progress.
5 / 5 (5) Mar 16, 2018
So, plastic particles in bottled water is a moot point and is preferable to bacteria and dirt. Stop causing panic. -snerdguy

Your argument is made using a type of fallacy known as a false dilemma. In reality, most people have access to clean tap water.
5 / 5 (3) Mar 16, 2018
Bottled water is ecological nonsense by itself - but once someone argues with health risks of minuscule amount of plastic particles then he's apparently wagging the dog here. The materials forming plastic bottles are biologically quite inert and they're used in cardiostimulators and implants for years. -mackita/zephir

How many cardiostimulators are shredded and then dumped into warm vats of hydrochloric acid?
5 / 5 (3) Mar 16, 2018
Everything I read says that no matter how fine the filters are that can be made, researchers are picking up smaller and smaller nanoplastic particles and fibers at just about every location they look, various ocean depths as well as rivers and freshwater lakes into which rivers drain.
The majority of plastic fibers are coming from the laundry. No filter can economically remove them from the waste water stream; no waste water treatment facilities even look for or try to remove them. Particles of plastic simply degrade into smaller ones and those particles as well as the fibers can and do accumulate as yet unknown types and quantities of chemicals and also bacterial and maybe even viral loads.
If you aren't drinking well water or some other subsurface water that is old enough to not have had surface water leach into it you are drinking plastic particles/fibers. Your dryer is blowing it across your yard. It is being incorporated into the soil of farms.

Welcome to the Plasticene.
not rated yet Mar 17, 2018
How many cardiostimulators are shredded and then dumped into warm vats of hydrochloric acid?

I don't know, but I do know that every time you peel open a candy bar, you're emitting a cloud of shredded-off plastic partcles that end up in your mouth.

The point is that the particles are everywhere. The very dust you're kicking around on your floor contains these particles and they end up in your glass of tap water anyways - so focusing on plastic water bottles as if this is some sort of news is just cynical rabble-rousing.

The main point they're trying to drive is:

society must abandon the ubiquitous use of plastic water bottles
not rated yet Mar 17, 2018
In reality, most people have access to clean tap water.

And where do these people put the clean tap water to carry it around?

In plastic bottles. Only, these worn-out and particle-shedding multi-use bottles harbor bacteria and dirt, and detergents from washing them. Check out for example this common chemical used in dish soaps, which gets lodged in the small scratches and crevices:


Out of the frying pan and into the fire.

not rated yet Mar 17, 2018
In reality, most people have access to clean tap water.

And where do these people put the clean tap water to carry it around?

Stainless steel-- if it's good quality and you have patience it also makes for great pots and pans-- all I use non-stick for anymore is eggs and then at the lowest heat settings necessary-- more patience.


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