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Bottled water contains 240,000 detectable plastic fragments per litre, study finds

There are 100 times more pieces of plastic in bottled water than previously believed, new research with major health implications has shown.

The study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on Monday found 240,000 detectable fragments in the average litre of bottled water.

Researchers used lasers to examine three popular brands of bottled water available in the United States for nanoplastics – particles less than one micrometre in size.

Nylon was the most common particle found, followed by polyethylene terephthalate (PET) which plastic bottles are made from.

The results have raised health concerns, as nanoplastics are small enough to enter the bloodstream through the digestive system and travel into the heart and brain.

“Nanoplastics are believed to be more toxic since their smaller size renders them much more amenable, compared to microplastics, to enter the human body,” the study authors wrote.

Co-author Beizhan Yan from Columbia University told AFP: “If people are concerned about nanoplastics in bottled water, it’s reasonable to consider alternatives like tap water.”

The International Bottled Water Association responded to the study in a statement saying reports on plastic particles “unnecessarily scare consumers”.

“Currently [there] is both a lack of standardised [measuring] methods and no scientific consensus on the potential health impacts of nano- and microplastic particles,” the association said.

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