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Bottled Water Contains 100 Times More Cancer-Causing Nanoplastics than Previously Thought

Bottled Water Contains 100 Times More Cancer-Causing Nanoplastics than Previously Thought
Published 1 months ago on Jan 15, 2024

 This finding, 100 times higher than previous estimates, is causing alarm among health-conscious consumers who may have opted for bottled water over tap water under the assumption that it was a healthier choice.

The Study: Conducted by researchers from the University of Columbia, the study focused on three popular brands of bottled water sold in the United States. Utilizing advanced laser scanning techniques, the scientists detected an average of 240,000 plastic particles in a one-liter bottle of water, in stark contrast to the 5.5 particles found in the same volume of tap water.

Nanoplastics, which are much smaller than the previously identified microplastics in bottled water, have been associated with serious health concerns, including cancer, fertility problems, and birth defects. These microscopic particles can potentially accumulate in vital organs, posing unknown health risks.

To conduct their groundbreaking research, the team employed a new technique called Stimulated Raman Scattering (SRS) microscopy. This method allowed them to analyze plastic particles down to 100 nanometers in size, providing unprecedented insights into the composition of bottled water.

Health Risks: The nanoplastics identified in the study were found to carry phthalates, chemicals that enhance the durability and flexibility of plastics. Phthalate exposure has been linked to 100,000 premature deaths annually in the United States, with known interference in hormone production. The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences has associated phthalates with developmental, reproductive, brain, immune, and other health problems.

Furthermore, the study revealed that nanoplastics can directly enter blood cells and the brain due to their minuscule size. This poses a significant risk to human health, raising concerns about the potential long-term effects of consuming water contaminated with these toxic particles.

Plastic Types and Sources: Among the common types of nanoplastics identified, polyethylene terephthalate (PET) was prevalent, constituting 90% of the particles. PET is commonly used in the production of water bottles, sodas, sports drinks, and various food products. The study suggests that PET particles may enter the water when bottles are squeezed or exposed to heat.

Another notable plastic particle found in bottled water was polyamide, a type of nylon, likely originating from plastic filters used in the purification process before bottling. Other plastics identified included polystyrene, polyvinyl chloride (PVC), and polymethyl methacrylate, all of which are used in various industrial processes.

Disturbingly, the study highlighted that the named plastics only accounted for around 10% of all nanoplastics found in the samples, leaving the researchers puzzled about the origin and potential hazards of the remaining particles.

Future Research and Implications: The researchers expressed concern about the lack of understanding regarding the health implications of nanoplastics and their widespread presence in bottled water. This revelation opens a new frontier in scientific inquiry, emphasizing the need for comprehensive studies to unravel the potential risks associated with consuming nanoplastics.

The team plans to extend their research to tap water, which has been previously shown to contain microplastics, albeit in smaller quantities than bottled water. As plastic production continues to escalate globally, exceeding 400 million metric tons annually, experts are working to comprehend the environmental impact and potential health effects on humans.

Conclusion: Consumers are now faced with a critical choice between tap and bottled water as the health risks associated with nanoplastics come to light. The findings underscore the urgent need for regulatory measures, increased awareness, and further research to mitigate the impact of nanoplastics on both human health and the environment. As the scientific community delves deeper into this emerging field, individuals must stay informed and make informed choices to safeguard their well-being.


 

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