In Brief

90% of bottled water ‘contains microplastics’

Researchers find levels of plastic fibres in popular bottled water brands could be twice as high as those found in tap water

A new study has found that 90% of bottled water is contaminated with microplastics, raising concerns about the potential health impact of drinking water bought from shops.

Thought to be the largest study of its kind, scientists examined more than 250 bottles of water from 11 different brands from around the world and found “almost all were contaminated to some degree”.

Scientists based at the State University of New York in Fredonia were commissioned by journalism project Orb Media to analyse the bottled water.

The scientists wrote they had “found roughly twice as many plastic particles within bottled water” compared with their previous study of tap water.

According to the new study, the most common type of plastic fragment found was polypropylene - the same type of plastic used to make bottle caps. The bottles analysed were bought in the US, China, Brazil, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Lebanon, Kenya and Thailand.

Plastic was identified in 93% of the samples, which “included major name brands such as Aqua, Aquafina, Dasani, Evian, Nestle Pure Life and San Pellegrino”, says Yahoo News.

Dr Andrew Mayes, who led the study, said: “We are becoming increasingly aware of microplastics in the environment and their potentially harmful effects, but their prevalence in other areas has been much less studied.”

“They have been reported in tap water, beer and many other foods, but I think that people will be surprised that almost all bottled water appears to be contaminated too.”

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.”

One of the affected companies, Coca-Cola, told the BBC it had strict filtration methods, but acknowledged the ubiquity of plastics in the environment meant plastic fibres “may be found at minute levels even in highly treated products”.

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