Researchers all over the world are discovering micro plastic particles in drinking water. Studies from a dozen countries reported plastic fibers in 83% of tap water samples. The United States had the highest number of contaminated samples, with 94% showing the presence of plastic particles.
“Microplastics have been shown to absorb toxic chemicals linked to cancer and other illnesses, and then release them when consumed by fish and mammals,” said Orb Media. Plastic is beyond ubiquitous, and furthermore, it can never biodegrade, it can only be broken down into smaller and smaller pieces.
How plastic gets into the air, water and food is frightening and unavoidable. Car tires release plastic particles during abrasion, synthetic fabrics shed thousands of particles in the washer and dryer, among countless other sources.
These plastics can attract bacteria and become carriers of diseases. According to Dr Anne Marie Mahon at the Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology, “Some studies have shown there are more harmful pathogens on micro plastics downstream of wastewater treatment plants.”
Water treatment systems cannot filter out all plastic fibers because they are so small. These nanoparticles of plastic have been shown to travel through the walls of the intestine, ending up in the lymph nodes, lungs, and other organs. Plastic was also found in samples of commercially bottled water in the United States, as well as bottled beer in Germany.
“We are increasingly smothering ecosystems in plastic and I am very worried that there may be all kinds of unintended, adverse consequences that we will only find out about once it is too late,” said Prof Roland Geyer, from the University of California in Santa Barbara, reporting that 300m tonnes of plastic are produced annually and only 20% is recycled or incinerated.
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