Analysis of 259 bottles of water, which were produced by 11 brands and bought in nine different countries, revealed that micro-plastics were present in 93% of the samples.
The tests were carried out at the State University of NY in Fredonia as part of a project involving original research and reporting by the US-based journalism organisation Orb Media.
The study, which was conducted by researchers at the State University of NY at Fredonia, hunted for tiny, nearly invisible pieces of plastic left over from the manufacturing process.
As part of the tests, Orb Media analysed water from US, China, Brazil, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Lebanon, Kenya and Thailand. We may also consume plastic particles in salt and seafood.
The study has not been published in a journal and has not been through scientific peer review.
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Most microplastics are thought to pass through our systems, although very small particles (such as those found in the surveyed bottled water) may be absorbed into our organs, such as the liver and kidneys.
The screening for plastic involved adding a dye called Nile Red to each bottle, a technique recently developed by British scientists for the rapid detection of plastic in seawater.
On the list to test were Aquafina, Arrowhead, Boxed Water, Crystal Geyser, Dasani, Deer Park, Eternal Water, Evian, Fiji, Glaceau Smart, Ice Mountain, Icelandic Glacial, Ozarka, Penta, Poland Spring, Texas Spring Water, Trader Joe's Mountain Spring, True Zealand and Zephyrhills.
However, the amount of plastic microfibres in both were more or less the same. Clearly that's occurring not just outside but inside factories.
Contamination could come from airborne microparticles, including from clothing, one researcher said. "Since consumers are paying a premium for bottled water, the onus is on the bottled water companies to show their product is worth the extra cost".
"We know that they are connected to these synthetic chemicals in the environment and we know that plastics are providing kind of a means to get those chemicals into our bodies". "Between the microplastics in water, the toxic chemicals in plastics and the end-of-life exposure to marine animals, it's a triple whammy". Nestle said that it tested six bottles of water from two of its brands and found only between two and 12 microplastics per liter.