Does bottled water contain plastic particles?

New research finds a massive amount of microplastics in bottled water.

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Bottled water contains more than just water. It also contains a surprising number of microscopic pieces of plastic.

That’s according to recent research, which finds that the average liter of bottled water contains nearly 240,000 tiny pieces of plastic. Nearly 90% of the plastics detected in the study were nanoplastics — plastic particles that can’t be seen with the naked eye and small enough to enter the body’s cells and tissues.

Microplastics — pieces of plastic debris that result from the breakdown of plastic products over time — and even smaller nanoplastics are everywhere and could pose a risk to human health.

The best way to protect ourselves, our communities and future generations from the threat of microplastics is to move beyond plastic.

Is it safe to drink bottled water?

Many people drink bottled water because of its convenience, taste or its perceived health benefits. In part, that’s thanks to decades of marketing from the bottled water industry. Crystal clear glacial waters, snow-fed mountain lakes and natural springs emblazoned across water bottle labels in every supermarket across the country only serve to reinforce this idea of naturally pure water. 

But recent research suggests that bottled water is far from pure.

A 2018 study found an average of 325 microplastic particles per liter of bottled water. More recent research — using laser imaging that can detect particles smaller than microplastics — finds that there are likely 10 to 100 times more plastic particles than seen in earlier studies, which have mainly focused on larger microplastics.

Nanoplastics may pose an even greater risk to human health than microplastics, because they’re potentially more easily misidentified as natural components in our bodies.

We still don’t know how harmful microplastic and nanoplastic can be to human health, but researchers do know there is cause for concern.

Is bottled water safer than tap water?

There is no guarantee that the bottled water you’re buying from the grocery store is actually safer than the water that flows from your tap. In most cases, the water coming from your faucet is perfectly fine to drink

Bottled water is also not as tightly regulated as what’s coming out of your tap. In fact,

Some of the bottled water sold in the U.S. comes from the same municipal sources that supply tap water. For instance, the water inside Coca-Cola’s Dasani bottles comes from the same source as the water flowing from your tap.

Because bottled water is packaged in a plastic bottle, there’s a risk that the plastic will degrade and flake off into the water. The water itself may be perfectly fine, but the single-use plastic packaging is problematic because it can degrade and contaminate water with small pieces of plastic.

How you can limit the amount of microplastics in your water

The best way to avoid microplastics in your water is to avoid plastic water bottles altogether. We recommend using glass and steel water bottles instead of plastic ones.

The best home filtration options are reverse osmosis, distillation, and ultrafiltration. 

Why is bottled water bad for the environment?

Each single-use plastic bottle may be labeled as “recyclable,” but the vast majority of single-use plastics end up in our landfills and littering our communities.

​​Plastic waste is a crisis, and it’s not one we can recycle our way out of.

Every minute, more than 1 million bottles of water are sold around the world and there’s no sign of that slowing down. Once empty, every single plastic bottle we throw away will remain in the environment for decades, or even centuries, to come. In the meantime, it will break down into microplastics that further pollute our water, food and air.

There is no way around it: We have to turn off the tap. In order to move beyond plastic, we need to transition away from wasteful, single-use plastic and begin to adopt reusable alternatives.

That’s why we’re calling on Coca-Cola to adopt reusable alternatives to its single-use plastic bottles. As one of the largest producers of single-use plastic bottles on the planet, Coke can and should do more to reduce plastic waste — and it can help shift the entire industry.

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