It’s already well known that plastic fibers can make their way onto people’s plates via seafood, which likely consumed their fair share of plastics in the ocean. However, it turns out that not only those who eat fish are inadvertently consuming microscopic pollutants. According to a new study, virtually all the world’s tap water contains plastic fibers. That’s right, of the samples tested, 83 percent came back with traces of plastic particles.
During the research commissioned by data journalism outlet Orb, tap water samples were examined from over a dozen countries on five continents. The rates of prevalence varied but were at over 70 percent in each location. Worldwide, the score was a shocking 83 percent.
In the U.S., 94 percent of the water samples were contaminated by plastic. That included water from such places as the Trump Tower and the Environmental Protection Agency’s headquarters.
Microfibers get into the water from a number of sources – on its website, Orb enumerates synthetic fibers in fabrics like acrylic and polyester that emit the particles in the wash, tire dust, paints, secondary microplastics, synthetic fibers in the air, and microbeads in cosmetic products.
The new findings once again raise questions about how the amount of plastic we produce and dispose of affects us and what we can do to fix and stop this problem. Plastics get into our systems even if we do not suspect it at all.
“Chemicals from plastics are a constant part of our daily diet,” Scott Belcher, Research Professor at the North Carolina State University told Orb. “We generally assume the water bottle holding that pure spring water, the microwave-safe plastic bowl we prepare our meals in, or the styrofoam cup holding a hot drink is there protecting our food and drinks. Rather than acting as a completely inert barrier, these plastics are breaking down and leaching chemicals, including endocrine-disrupting plasticizers like BPA or phthalates, flame retardants, and even toxic heavy metals that are all absorbed into our diets and bodies.”
Knowing that we are literally drinking microscopic pieces of plastics in our tap water – which could be potentially dangerous to our health – is something quite impossible to turn our heads away from. While this is horrible news, we hope it may be the shock many of us need to re-examine our relationship with plastic and our overuse of it.
To learn how to minimize your use of plastics, check out One Green Planet’s #CrushPlastic campaign!
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