Maybe you have read the recent news that 93% of bottled water around the world and 92% of tap water is contaminated with microplastics*. Other research also concludes that the average person could be ingesting 100,000 pieces or 9 ounces (250 g) of microplastics per year.
How much microplastics are there in bottled water and tap water? What do we know about the health impact of microplastics? How can you remove microplastics from your tap water?
In this article we will attempt to answer these questions.
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.
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. In some samples there were thousands of microplastics per liter. The big challenge is that microplastics are unregulated and therefore water utilities are not obliged to test for it or include microplastics in water quality reports. Even if the source of the water is mountain springs and lakes there could be microplastics as plastic pollution is everywhere.
Therefore anyone concerned about their own health or family members should highly consider buying a water filter for microplastics.
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 we 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.
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.
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.
The fact is that we don't know enough yet about the health impact of microplastics. Therefore it's better to be safe than sorry.
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 two types of filters that will help remove microplastics of this size:
- Carbon Blocks faucet filters: The most efficient ones, such as TAPP 2 (sold as Flo Faucet in the US) 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.
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 low micron rated carbon block filter is an affordable and environmentally friendly way to keep the family safe from microplastics. Note that most carbon block filters have not been tested for microplastics.
More about TAPP 2 and Flo Faucet Microplastics Filter
TAPP 2 (sold as Flo Faucet filter in the US) is the world's first filter with recyclable refill cartridges. TAPP 2 is the simple, smart, affordable and eco-friendly way to get fresh, clean water at home. It's designed to fit onto any faucet in less than 1 min. MYTAPP app and web monitors filter usage, cartridge changes, money saved versus bottled water and reduction in plastic waste / CO2. It uses the latest coconut-based micro-filtration technology filtering 80+ contaminants including microplastics, lead, chlorine, THMs and more.
Find out more about TAPP 2.