Plastic particles contaminating leading bottled water brands

Particle concentration ranged from

"If you have contaminated and unsafe drinking water, bottled water may be your only alternative".

The World Health Organization (WHO) said it would launch a review into the potential risks of plastic in drinking water, partly in response to the study findings.

An American analysis found particles of plastic in 93 per cent of water bottles from 11 leading brands.

According to their analysis carried out in conjunction with the State University of NY in Fredonia, "93 percent of the bottled water tested showed some sign of microplastic contamination", featuring polypropylene, nylon, and polyethylene terephthalate.

Researchers from the State University of NY in Fredonia have found an unprecedented amount of plastic pollution in a wide range of bottled water. A bottle of Nestle Pure Life water showed the highest levels in Orb Media's study, with 10,390 particles per liter.

It described the science of microplastics as "an emerging field, in its infancy, which requires further scientific analysis, peer-reviewed research and greater collaboration across many stakeholders".

Brands tested by Orb included Aqua (Danone), Aquafina (PepsiCo), Bisleri (Bisleri International), Dasani (Coca-Cola), Evian (Danone), Gerolsteiner (Gerolsteiner Brunnen), Minalba (Grupo Edson Queiroz), Nestlé Pure Life (Nestlé), San Pellegrino (Nestlé), and Wahaha (Hangzhou Wahaha Group). We also tested bottled waters from other brands to balance it out, the two other brands were Le Minerale and Club.

However, the amount of plastic microfibres in both were more or less the same.

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Researchers tested 250 bottles of water in Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Lebanon, Mexico, Thailand and the US. Those tests, said Nestle Head of Quality Frederic de Bruyne, showed between zero and five plastic particles per liter.

The make-up of these particles was not confirmed but Prof Mason said they can "rationally expected to be plastic". Researchers then filtered out and counted the particles which were over 100 microns in size or roughly the diameter of a human hair.

To check that the process of testing was not itself adding plastic to the bottles, Prof Mason ran "blanks" in which the purified water used to clean the glassware and the acetone used to dilute the Nile Red dye were themselves investigated. They found polypropylene, nylon and polyethylene terephthalate (PET).

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

Around 480 billion plastic bottles were sold globally in 2016 - that's a million bottles per minute. That said, the technique's developer, University of East Anglia scientist Dr Andrew Mayes, told the paper that he was satisfied the study had been conducted carefully, in the way he would have done in his own lab.

Gerolsteiner, a German bottler, said its tests "have come up with a significantly lower quantity of microparticles per liter" than found in Orb's study.

However, it isn't clear what kind of effect this has on human health.

"I think it is coming through the process of bottling the water".

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