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Study reveals 240,000 plastic fragments in one-litre water bottle

Written by  Annesha Barua -- January 09th 2024 03:32 PM
Study reveals 240,000 plastic fragments in one-litre water bottle

Study reveals 240,000 plastic fragments in one-litre water bottle

PTC News Desk: In a recent study highlights a startling revelation: an average one-liter bottle of water contains around 240,000 plastic fragments, most of them tiny enough to elude conventional detection methods. Published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, this study delves into "nanoplastics," particles so minute they measure under 1 micrometer.

This groundbreaking research, led by Naixin Qian, a Columbia University chemistry graduate student, and Beizhan Yan, an environmental chemist, inventoried plastic particles in 25 bottled water samples from undisclosed US brands. The study identified 90 per cent of these particles as nanoplastics, challenging prior estimates by showcasing that bottled water might harbor 100 times more plastic fragments than previously assumed.


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Nanoplastics are particularly concerning as they can breach human cells, infiltrate the bloodstream, affect organs, and even traverse the placenta, posing substantial health risks. The lack of prior technology capable of identifying individual nanoparticles meant this realm remained uncharted until now.

The research team developed a pioneering microscopy technique coupled with an innovative algorithm, unveiling a world of nanoplastics that remained hidden. Their discoveries encompassed seven prevalent plastic types, including those used in the production of water bottles and filters. Notably, numerous unidentified nanoparticles further increased concerns about the actual volume of plastic contamination in bottled water.

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Beyond just bottled water, this study aims to extend its scope, planning investigations into tap water and snow samples from western Antarctica. With over 450 million tons of plastic produced annually, understanding the scope of nanoplastic pollution is crucial, given its omnipresence and potential to infiltrate the human body.

The revelations surrounding bottled water and its nanoplastic content underscore the necessity for comprehensive research and heightened awareness about plastic pollution's lesser-known realm. As Wei Min, a biophysicist and co-author, emphasised, "The smaller things are, the more easily they can get inside us."

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