The World Health Organisation (WHO) are launching an investigation into the presence of microplastics in bottled drinking water following the report that Orb Media found plastic particles in major brands of bottled water.
Currently there is no understanding of the implications to human health regarding the ingestion of microplastics from bottled water, however, WHO are investigating to assess this.
Bruce Gordon, coordinator of the WHO’s gloabal work on water and sanitation told BBC News that the main question that is raised from this new knowledge is whether a lifetime of eating or drinking plastic particles could have an effect of human health.
Gordon said: “When we think about the composition of the plastic, whether there might be toxins in it, to what extent they might carry harmful constituents, what actually the particles might do in the body — there’s just not the research there to tell us.
“We normally have a ‘safe’ limit but to have a safe limit, to define that, we need to understand if these things are dangerous, and if they occur in water at concentrations that are dangerous.”
Tests discovering plastic particles in drinking water were carried out at the State University of New York using a method that binds together the plastic particles using the Nile Red dye technique. The plastic particles were then counted under a specific light source that makes them visible and an average of 10 plastic particles per litre of water was found.
Professor Sherri Mason who carried out the study said: “What we do know is that some of these particles are big enough that, once ingested, they are probably excreted but along the way they can release chemicals that cause known human health impacts.
“Some of these particles are so incredibly small that they can actually make their way across the gastro-intestinal tract, across the lining and be carried throughout the body, and we don’t know the implications of what that means on our various organs and tissues.”