Plastic larger than human hair in most bottled water

New study suggests 93 % of bottled water may have Microplastics

Valued at $147 billion per year, bottled water is marketed the fastest-growing beverage market in the world. But its perceived image of cleanliness and purity is being challenged by a global investigation that found the water tested is often contaminated with tiny particles of plastic.

A spokesperson from the Food Standards Agency, said: "Based on current information, including the evaluation on the safety of microplastics exposure from food undertaken by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), it is unlikely that the levels of microplastic particles reported in this study to be present in bottled water would cause harm to consumers".

The study was supervised by Professor Sherri Mason, a leading microplastic researcher at the State University of NY in Fredonia. The test was done on 250 bottles.

Plastic was identified in 93% of the samples, including some major brands.

Researchers discovered that it was polypropylene fragments that were in the bottled water which is the same type of plastic used to make bottle caps.

When contacted by reporters, two leading brands confirmed their products contained microplastic, but they said the study significantly overstates the amount.

"Generally I can see how they've obtained the results and it makes sense - I mean I'm not totally surprised to find that water bottled in plastic contains plastic particles". Even smaller particles were more common - averaging about 325 a litre. There were a minority of bottles which showed no evidence of plastic particles though. In addition to air and water pollution, the fracking boom has delivered an abundant supply of the hydrocarbon ethane, which is used in petrochemical manufacturing to create ethylene, which is turned into plastic.

Experts are warning against the risk to human health because of this contamination.

Earlier, also there have been reports claiming bottled water is not safe for drinking.

Plastics are present almost everywhere and can take hundreds of years to degrade, if at all. Are you concerned that you could be unintentionally consuming unsafe levels of plastic? Max Liboiron of Memorial University in St John's.

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He replied: "The scientific literature says that not only is the jury not yet out on this question but the jury has not yet been convened on it".

Here's something to consider the next time you reach for a water bottle - you may be drinking more than H2O.

However, Professor Mason said: "It's not about pointing fingers at particular brands". It was shipped to the specialized lab at SUNY in Fredonia, N.Y. The makers mentioned that the bottled water goes through rigorous quality-control and is a safe product.

Sherri Mason, a chemistry professor at State University of NY in Fredonia, told BBC, that the idea behind the project was not to target certain brands. But if some were small enough to pass through the gut, "there would be concern about physical invasion of tissue and the chemical load associated with the plastics", Halden told DW.

Mason leaves open that possibility but leans strongly to the smaller particles being plastic.

Researchers came to the conclusion that "contamination is at least partially coming from the packaging and/or the bottling process itself".

"This is pretty substantial", Mayes said.

However, some bottles had a concentration of more than 10,000 micro-plastic particles per litre, with some pieces as large as the width of a human hair.

"The vast majority of us, especially those of us in developed nations like Canada, the United States and Europe have access to clean, well regulated water which is much cleaner than bottled water", said Mason. "The research results do not correspond to the internal analyses that we conduct on a regular basis".

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