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Americans Ingest 70,000 Microplastics From Bottled Water A Year, Study Says

A new study confirmed that Americans have been ingesting tiny plastic materials called microplastics from the beverages they drink, particularly bottled water. These particles also enter the body from the food they eat and the air they breathe.

A new research published in the Journal of Environmental Science and Technology last Wednesday found that Americans eat, drink and breathe about 74,000 to 121,000 microplastics every year. The results suggested that the number of particles ingested greatly depend upon age and sex.

Those who drink bottled water more than tap water were getting 90,000 plastic particles. Unfortunately, the adverse effects of ingesting these man-made particles remain unknown, but they are small enough to penetrate our body’s tissues and may trigger an immune reaction. These particles include toxic substances such as heavy metals and pollutants that are absorbed from the environment.

What Are Microplastics?

A prior study published in Science Reports claimed that microplastics contaminate food during the production and packaging processes. As per the new study, on the other hand, they are found in bottled water, honey, seafood, salt, sugar, tap water and alcoholic beverages.

The researchers then used an estimated average consumption of these products including the inhalation rates of tiny plastic particles per year. They found that approximately 81,000 are consumed by boys, 121,000 for men, 74,000 by girls and 98,000 for women. On the other hand, 75,000 are ingested by boys from drinking bottled water, 127,000 by men, 64,000 by girls while 93,000 are consumed by women. The authors also noted that these are mere estimates and highly likely underestimated.

According to the leader of the microplastic research team at the National Oceanography Center in the United Kingdom Richard Lampitt, the study lacked a coherent description of what microplastics are but found the findings about the material. He told the Science Media Centre that the particle size mentioned in the study is only an estimate and that further research is required to properly detect whether the particles referred in the study are microplastics or nanoplastics.

Moreover, professor of ecology at the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom Alastair Grant noted that there is a lack of evidence that presents concern over the consumption of the particles and how their ingestion adversely affects the human body. He added that the data purporting to inhalation is unreliable since it did not consider the fact that the human body can expel these particles during the breathing process.

Water bottles Plastic bottles contain microplastics that people ingest by drinking bottled water. PublicDomainPictures/Pixabay