Revealing the truth: Scientists found more than 2,000 pieces of microplastic in a water bottle

Revealing the truth: Scientists found more than 2,000 pieces of microplastic in a water bottle

Representative image

(Mahesh Ji/BCCL)

Life is all about making tough choices. One such choice that many of us face all too often is the choice of the “safe but expensive” bottled water that the waiter dangles in front of us at the restaurant or the “questionable but free” tap water.

Your choice, of course, usually depends on the type of organization and people we work with. But before you make that call, be prepared for a discovery that could turn the tables — and potentially give you trust issues if you don’t already have them.

As if the presence of plastic bottled water wasn’t bad enough, scientists recently discovered that there is plastic in the water as well!

For years, we’ve been hearing about the growing problem of microplastics — those tiny bits of plastic that pollute our oceans, soil, and even our food. But now, scientists at Columbia University have discovered a new world of how much plastic pollution is caused by… Nanoplastics.

These microscopic particles, thousands of times smaller than the width of a human hair, are almost invisible to the naked eye. But using a technique called stimulated Raman microscopy, which involves examining samples with two simultaneous lasers tuned to make certain molecules resonate, the researchers tested three popular brands of bottled water sold in the United States, analyzing plastic particles up to just 100 nanometers in size. What they found was shocking!

A liter of bottled water can contain 110,000 to 370,000 particles, or on average up to 240,000 detectable pieces of plastic, in each litre. About 90% of these particles are nanoplastics, while the rest are microplastics. This is 10-100 times more than previously thought.

Given that these nanoplastics can easily pass through the intestines and lungs, directly into the bloodstream and potentially reach organs such as the heart and brain, this is a major cause for concern.

The study found that one common source of these nanoplastics is polyethylene terephthalate, or PET, which is not surprising since this is the material that many water bottles are made from. Nanoparticles are likely to enter the water when small pieces break off when the bottle is squeezed or exposed to heat.

But here was the real kicker: Polyamide, a type of nylon, outperformed PET. Ironically, this plastic probably comes from filters used to purify water before it is bottled, according to study co-author Beizhan Yan.

Other plastics the researchers found included polystyrene, polyvinyl chloride and polymethyl methacrylate, all of which have different industrial applications. However, something stood out, and it was troubling.

The seven types of plastic that the Columbia team analyzed accounted for only about 10% of the nanoparticles detected in the samples, and they had no idea about the rest!

As for whether tap water is the lesser evil when it comes to micro- and nano-plastic particles, previous research has shown that although it does contain plastic pollution, it is much less than bottled water.

The results of this study were detailed in With people It can be accessed here.

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