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More Plastic Particles than Previously Believed are Present in Bottled Water: Study

Plastic Particles
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A recent study found that the average one-liter water bottle includes almost 240,000 plastic pieces.

The researchers concluded that a significant portion of those fragments have previously gone unreported, indicating that health risks associated with plastic pollution may be greatly overstated.

The findings underwent peer review and was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal on January 8.

This assessment is the first to look for “nanoplastics” in bottled water, which are plastic particles smaller than one micrometer, or one-seventh the breadth of a human hair.

Since prior research only took into account microplastics, or particles between one and five thousand micrometers in size, the results indicate that bottled water may contain up to 100 times more plastic particles than previously thought.

Because nanoplastics are small enough to enter the bloodstream, affect organs, and penetrate human cells, they pose a larger hazard to human health than microplastics.

They can also enter the bodies of unborn children through the placenta.

Although they have long known that bottled water contains them, scientists have not had the tools to identify specific nanoparticles.

The co-authors of the study overcame this difficulty by developing a novel microscopy method, creating a data-driven algorithm, and using both to examine about twenty-five one-liter water bottles that were bought from three well-known American brands.

In every liter, they discovered between 110,000 and 370,000 microscopic plastic particles, 90% of which were nanoplastics.

The study’s principal author, Ms. Naixin Qian, a graduate student at Columbia University studying chemistry, stated, “This study offers a powerful tool to address the challenges in analysing nanoplastics, which holds the promise to bridge the current knowledge gap on plastic pollution at the nano level.”

Co-author of the study and environmental chemist at Columbia University Mr. Beizhan Yan continued, saying, “Before now this was just a dark, unexplored area. Studies on toxicity were merely speculating about the contents. This creates a window through which we can see a world to which we were previously blind.

The researchers focused on seven popular types of plastic, such as polyamide, which is frequently used in filters to filter water before it is bottled, and polyethylene terephthalate (PET), which is used to make many water bottles.

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