tap water pollution

Plastic microparticles found in tap water. All over the world

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An international study conducted by Orb and The Guardian reveals that the water in our taps contains plastic microparticles. Every country in the world is concerned and France is not outdone.
 
Dew dozens of tap water samples from more than a dozen countries have been analysed by scientists for a survey ofOrb Mediawhich shared its results with The Guardian. Overall, 83 % of the samples were found to be contaminated with plastic fibres.
 
The United States has the highest rate of contamination, 94 %, with plastic fibres found in tap water collected from several sites, including the Congressional buildings, the headquarters of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the Trump Tower in New York City. Lebanon and India come second.
European countries, including the United Kingdom, Germany and France, have the relatively lowest contamination rate, but still 72%. The average number of fibres found in each 500 ml sample ranged from 4.8 in the United States to 1.9 in Europe.
 
 
These new analyses indicate the extent of microplastic contamination, which is ubiquitous in the global environment. Previous work has focused largely on the pollution of the oceans by plastics. They suggested that we unknowingly eat plastic microparticles through contaminated seafood.
 
"We have enough data on the impacts this pollution has on wildlife to be concerned, said Sherri Mason, a microplastics expert at the State University of New York at Fredonia who supervised the analyses for Orb. "If it has an impact on wildlife, then how do you think it won't have an impact on us? »

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The results of this study raise two major concerns about very small particles of plastic and the chemicals or pathogens that microplastics may contain. Indeed, previous studies have shown that microplastics can attract bacteria found in wastewater.
Microplastics are also known to contain and absorb toxic chemicals, and research on wildlife shows that these are released in the body. Professor Richard Thompson of the University of Plymouth, UK, told Orb: " It soon became clear that the plastic would release these chemicals and the conditions in the gut would facilitate their release very quickly ".
 
The extent of global contamination by microplastics is only just beginning to be felt, studies in Germany had already found plastic fibres and fragments in 24 brands of beeras well as in the honey and sugar. In Paris, in 2015 researchers have discovered microplastics in the ambient air. Scientists estimated that three to ten tonnes of fibres were deposited on the capital city each year, and that this pollution was also present in the air in homes.
 
This research led Frank Kelly, Professor of Environmental Health at King's College London, to declare in 2016, during a British parliamentary inquiry : "If we breathe them in, these particles could potentially introduce chemicals into the lower parts of our lungs and maybe even our bloodstream.". After observing the data from the Orb study, Frank Kelly told the Guardian that further research is urgently needed to determine the level of health hazard posed by the ingestion of plastic particles.
 
The new Orb-sponsored study tested 159 samples using a standard technique to remove contamination from other sources and was conducted at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health. The samples came from around the world, including Uganda, Ecuador and Indonesia.
 
How microplastics end up in drinking water is a mystery at the moment, but the atmosphere is an obvious source, with the fibres disappearing due to daily wear and tear on clothes and carpets. Drum dryers are another potential source, as nearly 80 %s in U.S. households have dryers that usually open to the air.
 
"We really think that lakes and other water bodies] can be contaminated by cumulative atmospheric inputs." said Johnny Gasperi of the University of Paris-Est Créteil, who conducted the studies in Paris. « What we have observed in Paris tends to show that there is a huge amount of fibre present in atmospheric fallout. »
 
Plastic fibres can also be released into water systems, with a recent study revealing that each cycle of a washing machine could release 700,000 fibres into the environment. Rainfall could also sweep away microplastic pollution, which could explain why domestic wells used in Indonesia have been found to be contaminated.
 
In Beirut, Lebanon, the water supply comes from natural sources but 94% of the samples were contaminated.
Current water treatment systems do not filter all microplastics, says one of the study's authors: "There's really no place in the world where we can say that these microplastics are trapped at 100%. As far as the fibers are concerned, the diameter is 10 microns and it would be very unusual to find this level of filtration in our drinking water systems. »
 
To make matters worse, bottled mineral water does not spare us this pollution. Indeed, microplastics have been found in samples of commercially bottled water tested in the United States for Orb.
 
Nearly 300 million tonnes of plastic are produced each year and, with only 20 % of plastic recycled or incinerated, much of it ends up contaminating the air, land and sea. A report released in July revealed that 8.3 billion tonnes of plastic have been produced since the 1950s, with researchers warning that plastic waste has become ubiquitous in the environment.

READ IN UP' : Every human leaves 1,000 tons of plastic waste in nature

Our marine and atmospheric ecosystems are suffocating under this plastic pollution... "and I'm afraid there are all kinds of unintended negative consequences that we won't find out until it's too late", said Professor Roland Geyer of the University of California and Santa Barbara, who led the study.
(Sources: The Guardian, Orb)
 

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