The World Health Organization (WHO), in the largest investigation of its kind, has announced that 259 bottles bought in nine different countries across 11 different brands found an average of 325 plastic particles for every litre of water being sold. The research was led by journalism Orb Media, which discovered an average of 10 different plastic particles (polymers) per litre, in which each of the particles is larger than the width of the human hair. Analysis of the new study found an average of these 325 plastic particles for every litre being sold.
The analysis was conducted at New York University of Fredonia. The scientists said that they had “found approximately twice as many plastic particles within bottled water” when it was compared with the plastic particles they discovered in tap water. The nine countries where these bottles were bought are The USA, China, India, Kenya, Mexico, Lebanon, Thailand, Indonesia, and Brazil.
Polypropylene, a polymer used in the bottling of caps, is the most common type of plastic particle found. How this really happens is a thought-provoking question. The polypropylene used in the capping of the bottles, according to one theory, says that, in the act of opening the bottle this polymer sheds particles inside.
A professor of chemistry at the aforementioned university, Prof Mason, carried out the analysis and told BBC News in her findings, saying: We found [plastic] in bottle after bottle and brand after brand”. Professor Mason went further to state: “It is not about pointing fingers at particular brands; it’s really showing that this is everywhere, that plastic has become such a pervasive material in the society, and it’s pervading water- all of these products that we consume at a very basic level.”
Commenting on the result, Prof Mason said: “it is not catastrophic, the number that we are seeing, but it is concerning.” Her reason is based on the fact that the ingesting of very small pieces of microplastics can cause harm to the health of humans”.
The dye used in the analysis is called Nile red dye. It was used to fluoresce particles in the water, thus sticking to their surfaces.
The buying of packs from the countries mentioned above was based on their populations or possibly, they own a seemingly high consumption of bottled water daily. These 11 brands included:
Bisleri (Bisleri International)
Dasani (Coca Cola)
Garolsteiner (GArolsteiner Brunnen)
Minalba (Grupo Edson Queiroz)
Nestle Pure Life (Nestle)
San Pellegrino (Nestle)
Wahaha ( Hangzhou Wahaha Group)
Prof Mason and her colleague carried out a process known as ‘filtration’ on their dyed samples and then made a count on every piece. They found out that every piece counted was larger than 100 microns (this is approximately the diameter of the human hair).
To be sure that the process of testing by the Nile red dye was not in itself adding plastic particles to the bottles, Prof Mason carried out “blanks”, in which all used- the purified water to clean the glassware and the acetone to dilute the Nile red dye were absolutely investigated. She found out that some particles were found. But, these particles were believed to be from air.
Most researchers were surprised to learn that 17 of 259 of these bottles were free of plastic particles.