Science and Tech


Bottled water is full of plastic particles, new study finds

Scientists studying the effects of nanoplastics say the particles are much more prevalent in bottled water than previously thought.
Woman drinking bottled water.
Posted at 9:15 PM, Jan 12, 2024

Scientists studying how tiny particles of plastic affect our everyday lives say that the amount of nanoplastics found in bottled water is between 10 to 100 times higher than researchers had previously estimated. 

Researchers say that while plastic pollution has continued to be an increasing global concern, microplastic contamination has been found to be prevalent in just about every environment, including in human biological samples. 

The New York Times reported that Douglas Walker, an analytical chemist at Emory University who was not involved in the study, said millions of tons of plastic is produced around the world every day — and this lends to the ubiquitous prevalence of environmental contaminants involving plastic. 

Nanoplastics are tiny particles of plastic that can be about the size of a piece of household dust, while microplastic particles are slightly larger in size. 

Scientists used "single-particle imaging" in the study to analyze the tiny pieces of the now-common substance. 

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Even though tiny pieces of plastic are now found nearly everywhere, even inside our food, water and bodies, scientists still say they aren't completely certain they have strong enough evidence to definitively understand how the particles affect human health. 

The study authors said plastics are now "omnipresent" in our everyday lives, and determined that nanoplastics may be more toxic because of their smaller size.

Researchers say detecting nanoplastics is difficult and scientists have had to develop a system known as a hyperspectral stimulated Raman scattering platform to analyze single particles. 

Researchers found that most of the plastics found throughout water in plastic bottles were nanoplastics.