My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: University of East Anglia's School of Chemistry discovers microplastic in Bottled Water

Saturday, March 31, 2018

University of East Anglia's School of Chemistry discovers microplastic in Bottled Water

Dear reader, what I'm about to publish is so disturbing, I might have to put out an alert for this. Not to mention thinking of making my own water as explained in my Geezam blog article entitled “How to Make Distilled Water using a Solar Desalinator”.

Turns out that your favourite brands of bottled water may be contaminated with microplastic according to a study done by University of East Anglia's School of Chemistry as reported in the article “Top bottled water brands contaminated with plastic particles: report”, published March 15, 2018 by Kerry Sheridan, PhysOrg.

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Their research has been vetted and is considered accurate to quote lead researcher Andrew Mayes, from UEA's School of Chemistry: “We have been involved with independently reviewing the findings and methodology to ensure the study is robust and credible…. The results stack up”.

Representatives from the International Bottled Water Association, the asociation that represents the bottled water industry took issue with the findings, claiming that the research was not peer-reviewed and quote: “not based on sound science” and point out that, quote: “A recent scientific study published in the peer-reviewed journal Water Research in February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”.

They even threw in a bit of uncertainty on fact that if microplastic is present, it would have no known health effects to quote the International Bottled Water Association: “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”.

So how did the researchers conduct their research?

University of East Anglia's School of Chemistry Bottled water Research - Microplastic exposed

The Researchers tested the water by staining it with the fluorescent Nile Red dye, which makes plastic fluorescent when irradiated with blue light.

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They then did as chemical assay on the plastic discovered in these samples and realized that it was of the following types:

1.      Nylon
2.      Polyethylene terephthalate (PET)
3.      Polypropylene

The researcher conducted a three months study and discovered that 93% of samples taken from the following top brands of bottled water have microplastic suspended in their water:

1.      Aqua
2.      Aquafina
3.      Bisleri
4.      Dasani
5.      Epura
6.      Evian
7.      Gerolsteiner
8.      Minalba
9.      Nestle Pure Life
10.  San Pellegrino
11.  Wahaha

They took their samples from some 250 bottles of water purchased in the following countries:

1.      Brazil
2.      China
3.      India
4.      Indonesia,
5.      Kenya
6.      Lebanon
7.      Mexico
8.      Thailand
9.      United States

These are basically the material used to make the bottled water, with Polypropylene being used to make bottle caps.

Dr. Sherri Mason of the State University of New York at Fredonia was quick to point out that the particles were not as small as expected and seem to have been produced during the manufacture of the bottle, quote: “In this study, 65 percent of the particles we found were actually fragments and not fibers. 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”.

In other words, the plastic bottles are not disintegrating and dissolving into the water, but have angular shapes when viewed under microscope, suggesting that they were mechanically cut, not gradually worn by chemical attack by the water. 

On average the concentration of the particles range from “zero to more than 10,000 likely plastic particles in a single bottle” as stated in their research paper or roughly 10.4 plastic particles per liter. Even smaller particles were more common, averaging about 325 per liter.

These irregularly shaped particles ranged from 100 micron (0.10 millimeter) in size and are thus microparticle. These are considerably smaller than microbeads found in bathing products such as soaps, gels and scrubs as noted in my blog article entitled “How US microbeads ban by 2017 means NEPA ban coming to protect Coral Reefs”. 

It is true that water is slightly negative, and bottle water, being almost ultrapure, can attack positively charged ions in the bottle, as this video explains:

But unless the water contains metallic ions this is unlikely. So clearly there were the result of the mechanical process involve in making plastic bottled.

So what does this mean for our health?

Microplastic and Human Health - Unknown side effects as we may just pass it out

For one, it means that I'll be drinking more Tap water as of now.

That's because it's safer as previous research by Orb Media has found plastic particles in tap water but in smaller amounts to quote Dr. Sherri Mason: “Tap water, by and large, is much safer than bottled water”.

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As for the effect on humans, this is unclear as no definitive studies have connected microplastic, being as most research has mainly being correlations and have not ruled out other external environmental factors as pointed out by Dr. Sherri Mason, quote: “There are connections to increases in certain kinds of cancer to lower sperm count to increases in conditions like ADHD and autism. 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”.

Jacqueline Savitz, chief policy officer for North America at Oceana, a marine advocacy group that was not involved in the research says that this is more evide3nce that we need to stop using plastic bottles, as the long term health risks are still unknown, quote: “We know plastics are building up in marine animals, and this means we too are being exposed, some of us every day.
It's more urgent now than ever before to make plastic water bottles a thing of the past”.

Already the WHO (World Health Organization) has begun investigating this discovery of microplastics in bottled water as well as tap water and its potential health risks as noted in the article “WHO launches health review after microplastics found in 90% of bottled water”, published Thursday 15 March 2018 by Graham Readfearn,  The Guardian. 

Then again, being as this plastic is undigestible by the human body, would we not pass it out in our stool, as no enzymes exist that can break it down?

I'd be a little more worried if this was nanoparticle sized particles, as those could effectively be nano-machines, as at that size they are basically high reactive nanoparticles that can react with enzymes and cheimcals and cause real harm.

Still more reason to invest in a water filter.....and drink piped water!!!

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