Plastic particles found in bottled water

Particle concentration ranged from

Many consumers are skeptical of tap water, which has helped fuel the rise of bottled water as the fastest-growing beverage market in the world, valued at $147 billion per year.

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.

"Under certain wavelengths of light it causes them to sparkles likes stars in the night sky", Sherri Mason of the State University of NY said.

The research was conducted on behalf of Orb Media, a U.S-based non-profit journalism organization with which CBC News has partnered. For stronger evidence, we need thousands of water bottles to be tested from different regions. The water was purchased in nine countries around the world. Brands tested include Aquafina, Aqua, Bisleri, Dasani, Epura, Evian, Nestlé, Gerolsteiner, Minalba, Wahaha, and San Pellegrino.

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. Microbeads are now being phased out in Canada, after significant numbers began to appear in the Great Lakes and the tiny particles were found filling the stomachs of fish.

Microplastics are pieces of plastic less than five millimeters long.

A research conducted by The State University of NY at Fredonia says that the one who consumes a litre of bottled water per day might be consuming 10,000 of microplastic particles each year.

On average, plastic particles in the 100 micron (0.10 millimeter) size range - considered "microplastics", - were found at an average rate of 10.4 plastic particles per liter.

When one is traveling, especially in India, it is often assumed that buying bottled water is safer than getting water from taps marked for potable water.

Researchers have established that tiny particles of titanium dioxide can pass through the lining of the gut so the same might be possible with plastic, raising the question of where it would then end up.

The health implications of consuming plastics in bottled water are not yet known.

It is not yet clear how microplastic in bottled water can affect human health.

However, there are some bottled water brands that are specially created for kids and are bottled in glass recipients.

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Plastics are present almost everywhere and can take hundreds of years to degrade, if at all. "The global average was 325 particles per liter", Orb noted in a March 14 news release.

"We don't even know all the chemicals in plastics", Muncke told Orb.

"It's not straightforward", said Prof. "Are you excreting that plastic?"

"This is shocking", Erik Solheim, executive director of the United Nations Environment Program, told Orb.

The make-up of these particles was not confirmed but Prof Mason said they can "rationally expected to be plastic".

Prof. Sherri Mason carried out the laboratory work at the State University of New York (SUNY), on behalf of Orb Media. It was followed by nylon (16 percent) and polystyrene (11 percent).

The developer of the Nile Red method agrees.

I suggested to Michael Walker, a consultant to the Office of the UK Government Chemist and founder board member of the Food Standards Agency, that the jury was out on whether microplastics could cause harm.

"This is pretty substantial", Mayes said.

"In this study, 65 percent of the particles we found were actually fragments and not fibers", Mason told AFP.

Researchers used fluorescent tagging with Nile Red dye to study the microplastic contamination. The report notes that this is "twice as much as within previous study on tap water".

"We still can not understand how the study reached the conclusions it did", Gerolsteiner said. "The research results do not correspond to the internal analyses that we conduct on a regular basis", the company said in a response.

Several of the national brands tested responded to the study, claiming that the methodology used is "unclear". "There is still limited data on the topic, and conclusions differ dramatically from one study to another".

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