Microplastics In Drinking Water Don't Appear to Have Health Risks

Microplastics larger than 150 micrometres are not likely to be absorbed by the human body says WHO

Microplastics larger than 150 micrometres are not likely to be absorbed by the human body says WHO

As of now, experts believe that microplastic in drinking water poses a "low risk" to humans.

The WHO says 'microplastics larger than 150 micrometres are not likely to be absorbed in the human body and uptake of smaller particles is expected to be limited.

As many as two billion people are affected due to drinking water contamination and a million die, said Bruce Gordon from Department of Public Health, WHO.

Neira said: "We urgently need to know more about the health impact of microplastics because they are everywhere - including in our drinking-water".

What does the report say?

This has prompted concerns that humans might be contaminated by the chemicals used in plastics or the pathogens that ride on the particles.

On Thursday, the organisation released its report on potential health risks with ingesting microplastics. "The evidence points to the cap itself as the main contributor to plastics in the water".

Gordon said that although World Health Organization would continue to monitor levels of microplastics in water, the higher priority is proven risks in drinking water like bacteria that cause typhoid and cholera. "We're basically at a point where the study methods were quite weak".

Gordon acknowledged, however, that the available data is "weak" and that more research is needed.

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Tiny particles of plastic get into our drinking water in a number of ways but mainly through surface runoff after rain or snow, waste water and industrial effluent. The authors of the report admit the current state of research is not good enough, and they are calling on scientists to design better and more reliable studies to figure out how plastic affects our health and how we can safely remove it from our drinking water. That is why the WHO's recommendations in the wake of this report do not include routine checks for microplastics in water.

"We know from a recent New Zealand study that treated wastewater effluent contains large amounts of microplastics, in line with global studies".

How limited is the research?

But we need to find out more.

Plastic fragments and fibres from synthetic fabrics were the most common microplastics found in drinking water, the report found.

"Where there is opportunity for water to interact with plastic material there is opportunity for plastic to go into the water source", Jarvis said.

Media captionWhy is there microplastic in Arctic snow?

Dr. Andrew Mayes, a senior lecturer in chemistry at the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom, said the World Health Organization report would likely come as a relief to people who have been alarmed about levels of microplastics in our water supply.

"We know from a recent New Zealand study that treated wastewater effluent also contains large amounts of microplastics, in line with worldwide studies, which represents a direct source of microplastics to terrestrial, marine and freshwater environments", ESR senior scientist Dr Olga Pantos said.

A WHO report has said there is little evidence of microplastics harming human health, but this data black hole is a problem.

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