Where are microplastics found in bottled and tap water? What are the potential health risks of consuming microplastics? What is the best filter to remove microplastics from tap water?
Maybe you have read the studies that 93% of bottled water around the world and 92% of tap water is contaminated with microplastics*. A recent report also concludes that the average person could be ingesting 100,000 pieces or 250 g of microplastics per year.
In this article we will attempt to answer these questions including how to filter and remove microplastics from tap water.
How much microplastics does bottled water contain?
The two studies of of bottled water and tap water by Orb Media are the largest of their kind. Orb Media analyzed 250 bottles from 9 different countries around the globe. An average of 40 plastic particles per gallon, each larger than the width of a human hair, were found in bottled water.
See original infographic by Statista here.
Read more about Orb’s bottled water study here.
What about microplastics in tap water?
It's not just bottled water. Another study by Orb Media, found that 94% of tap water in the USA and 72% in Europe contained microplastics. There are therefore good reasons to be concerned about how to filter microplastics from tap water.
How much microplastics do we consume?
New research combining the results of more than 50 studies globally has found that on average, people could be ingesting about 5g of plastic every week - equivalent to a credit card - in the air they breathe, the food we eat and, especially, the water we drink.
This amounts to about 100,000 tiny pieces of plastic - or 250g - every year, said the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and the University of Newcastle on Wednesday (June 12). The study was commissioned by WWF and done by the Australian university.
Read more in the WWF report.
What is the health impact of drinking and eating microplastics?
We are all worried about what it might do to humans and animals in the long term. The fact is that we don't know yet. No one knows the health consequences yet, but there is significant evidence that microplastics and plasticizers from plastic packaging messes with our hormones.
Shanna Swan, professor of environmental science and public health at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City recently shared her latest work and research. It shows that exposure to plastics and chemicals are radically affecting sperm levels and the developmental cycles of children and it’s been going down steadily since the 1950’s and the widespread use of petrochemical products. One major danger is phthalates which, according to the CDC, are, “a group of chemicals used to make plastics more durable. They are often called plasticizers.”
Animal and invitro studies have suggested negative effects on inflammation and immunity. Another consideration is that microplastic particles are able to stick to other harmful chemicals and pollutants, which may also have adverse effects on human health. Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6132564/
Microplastic particles can accumulate polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), other chemicals that are linked to harmful health effects, including various cancers, a weakened immune system, reproductive problems and more. Once these chemicals are inside of us, even low doses may have an effect. Source: https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/youre-literally-eating-microplastics-how-you-can-cut-down-exposure-to-them/
Ingested microplastic particles can physically damage organs and leach hazardous chemicals—from the hormone-disrupting bisphenol A (BPA) to pesticides—that can compromise immune function and stymie growth and reproduction. Microplastics in the water we drink and the air we breathe can also hit humans directly. Source: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/from-fish-to-humans-a-microplastic-invasion-may-be-taking-a-toll/
Infants and young children are especially sensitive to many substances even in very small amounts. Thousands of studies have shown that nitrates, lead, PFAS and other substances may have severe impact on the development of the brain.
In summary we don't know enough about the health impact of microplastics. Therefore it's better to be safe than sorry. Avoid bottled water and filter your tap water.
How can you remove microplastics from tap water at home?
First of all, the smallest microplastics measured by Orb in tap water were about 2.5 micrometres, although most considerably bigger. It's important to understand the size as this will impact the type of filtering required.
There are three types of filters that will help remove microplastics of this size:
- Carbon Blocks faucet filters: The most efficient ones, such as TAPP 2 remove 100% of all known microplastics.
- Reverse Osmosis filters: Can filter down to to 0.001 micron so will remove all known microplastics, but are more expensive and require maintenance.
- Distillation filters: In theory they deliver pure H2O and does also filter 100% of known microplastics.
Make sure that the filter specifically specifies microplastics filtration and that there are independent test results to support it.
What microplastics filter should you choose?
As we don't know enough about microplastics in drinking water yet, there is no definite answer. For most circumstances, a carbon block filter is an affordable and environmentally friendly way to keep the family safe from microplastics.
Conclusion about microplastics and how to remove them
- Microplastics have been found in most bottled water and tap water
- On average you might be consuming as much as 5 g (a credit card of microplastics) every week
- Although we don't yet know the health implications of microplastics it's better to be safe than sorry and avoid bottled water and filter your tap water
- The most affordable water filter for filtering out microplastics from your tap water is TAPP 2
Please contact us through email@example.com or social media if you have questions.
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* Microplastics are defined as plastic particles smaller than 5mm.