Published: Sun, August 25, 2019
Sci-tech | By Patricia Wade

Plastic particles in drinking water pose no threat

Plastic particles in drinking water pose no threat

Javier Mateo-Sagasta, of the International Water Management Institute, said: "This latest report only adds to the growing body of evidence that microplastics are a huge issue, both for our health and for the environment, and that this needs urgent addressing".

"The report also emphasizes that, while risks to health of microplastics through ingestion in water may be low, there is a continuing need to reduce plastic inputs into the environment at source, in order to prevent the problem becoming worse", said Mayes, who wasn't involved in the research.

The report is WHO's first review to investigate the potential human health risks of microplastics.

But it said the findings were based on "limited information" as it called for greater research on the issue.

Microplastics are increasingly found in drinking water, but there is no evidence so far that this poses a risk to humans, according to a new assessment by the World Health Organization.

"We urgently need to know more about the health impact of microplastics because they are everywhere", she said. However, absorption and distribution of very small microplastic particles including in the nano size range may be higher, but the data was extremely limited for an accurate assessment.

Based on a separate study conducted by the State University of NY in March previous year, more than 90 percent of bottled water are contaminated with microplastic particles. The authors of the report admit the current state of research is not good enough, and they are calling on scientists to design better and more reliable studies to figure out how plastic affects our health and how we can safely remove it from our drinking water. It said people have inadvertently consumed microplastics and other particles in the environment for decades without sign of harm.

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Consumers are not at risk, say WHO.

A significant proportion of the global population can benefit from wastewater and drinking-water treatment systems that treat faecal content and chemicals as they also help remove at least 90% microplastics, says the analysis, adding that conventional drinking-water treatment can remove particles smaller than a micrometre.

A United Nations report has warned of hazards linked to plastic pollution in drinking water - including the risk that fragments might carry harmful bacteria.

Plastic fragments and fibres from synthetic fabrics were the most common microplastics found in drinking water, the report found.

The largest general well being menace in water is from microbial pathogens - together with from human and livestock waste coming into water sources - that trigger lethal diarrhoeal illness, particularly in poor nations missing water remedy methods, the World Health Organization stated. "We also need to stop the rise in plastic pollution worldwide", commented Dr Maria Neira, director of the Department of Public Health, Environment and Social Determinants of Health at the WHO.

The report found that, according to current data, by tackling the problem of sewage-contaminated water, communities can simultaneously address the problem of microplastics.

One recent study suggested that we are ingesting an average of five grams of plastic every week, the equivalent of a credit card.

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