According to investigative research from experts at Orb Media, tests revealed that almost all major bottled water brands are contaminated with micro-plastic particles.
The microscopic plastic particles, which come from sources including cosmetics, clothing and industrial processes, were detected in nearly all of the bottles of water tested by researchers at the University of East Anglia. In total, 250 bottles of water in Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Lebanon, Mexico, Thailand, and the United States were tested.
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".
The scientists tested 259 individual bottles in nine countries around the world, and 11 different brands.
To eliminate any risk of contamination, purchases in shops and deliveries to courier companies were recorded on video.
In order to test bottled water, a dye called Nile Red is infused into each bottle which then binds to the plastic. "Particles around 110 microns in size (0.11 millimeters) can be taken into the body's hepatic portal vein, which carries blood from the intestines, gallbladder, pancreas and spleen to the liver".
Microplastics are small plastic particles from a variety of sources including cosmetics, clothing, industrial processes, packaging materials and the degradation of larger plastic items. However, smaller particle were even more common-they averaged 325 per liter.
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This may not seem like a huge deal at first-the bottles are made up of plastic, after all-remember that because plastic doesn't break down, it can accumulate wherever it lands, including our bodies.
The study has not been published by a journal or peer-reviewed.
Germany's Gerolsteiner told Orb that its own tests "have come up with a significantly lower quantity of microparticles per liter", than found in Orb's study.
I suggested to Michael Walker, a consultant to the Office of the UK Government Chemist and founder board member of the Food Standards Agency, that the jury was out on whether microplastics could cause harm.
Concerning findings from the State University of NY at Fredonia may make us rethink using a plastic water bottle.
In response to the study, several brands questioned the methodology or said that the amount of plastic was overstated. It said it could not understand how Prof Mason's study reached its conclusions.
"Based on what we know so far about the toxicity of microplastics-and our knowledge is very limited on that-I would say that there is little health concern, as far as we know", says Martin Wagner, a toxicologist at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology.