Want To Consume Plastic? Drink Bottled Water

A new study offers more information about what consumers ingest with drinking bottled water (besides water.)

“People are swallowing hundreds of thousands of microscopic pieces of plastic each time they drink a liter of bottled water, scientists have shown — a revelation that could have profound implications for human health,” according to The Washington Post

Bottled water can contain 10 to 100 times more bits of plastic than previously estimated, according to a new study published in a peer-reviewed journal published by the National Academy of Sciences.

The exact harm they can do is TBD, but that doesn’t mean consumers should bury their heads in the sand. 



“A handful of small studies have found that they can cross the blood-brain barrier, enter the placenta and show up in our urine," according toThe New York Times. “Some researchers have theorized that microplastics may be behind disease patterns that haven’t yet been explained by other causes, such as the increase in colorectal cancers among young people, or the uptick in Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.”

Infants and young children may face the greatest risks, as their developing brains and bodies are often more vulnerable to impacts from toxic exposures,” according to CNN Health

About 90% of the particles in the water were nanoplastics and 10% of them were microplastics, according to the study. Nanoplastics "are believed to be more toxic since their smaller size renders them much more amenable, compared to microplastics, to enter the human body,” according to the study.

The new finding reinforces long-held expert advice to drink tap water from glass or stainless steel containers to reduce exposure, said Sherri “Sam” Mason, director of sustainability at Penn State Behrend in Erie, Pennsylvania, who was not involved in the study, but was the coauthor of a 2018 study that first detected the existence of micro- and nanoplastics.

That advice extends to other foods and drinks packaged in plastic.

“People don’t think of plastics as shedding but they do,” Mason tells CNN Health. “In almost the same way we’re constantly shedding skin cells, plastics are constantly shedding little bits that break off, such as when you open that plastic container for your store-bought salad or a cheese that’s wrapped in plastic.”

Whether it’s harmful to health or not, single use plastic is undeniably bad for the environment.  Some cities, state agencies and airports including LAX have banned them and the national parks has begun a gradual phaseout. 

Americans should use the results of the "striking" study to make informed decisions about what types of water they're consuming, Dr. Kristina Mena, an environmental health researcher with UTHealth Houston School of Public Health in El Paso, tellsUSA Today

But Jill Culora, a spokeswoman for the International Bottled Water Association, said in an email to The Washington Post that there “is both a lack of standardized methods and no scientific consensus on the potential health impacts of nano- and microplastic particles. Therefore, media reports about these particles in drinking water do nothing more than unnecessarily scare consumers.”

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