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Why there's almost definitely plastic in your bottled water

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Susan Devaney
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The World Health Organisation has launched a health review after plastic particles were found in multiple branded bottles of water. 

In recent months talk has turned to plastic. From trying to reduce the amount of single-use plastic from our daily lives to viral videos highlighting the polluting material in the world’s oceans, one thing’s come to the forefront: plastic is not fantastic.

Now, the conversation continues as talk has turned to bottled water after tests conducted on some of the world’s most popular brands found plastic particles in the water - with some larger than the size of a human hair. 

The study, commissioned by US journalism project Orb Media, found on average 325 plastic particles per litre sold. Analysis of 259 bottles revealed micro plastics in 93% of the samples from 11 brands across nine different countries – from US, China, Brazil, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Lebanon, Kenya and Thailand.

The tests, which were conducted at the State University of New York in Fredonia, found plastic in “in bottle after bottle and brand after brand”. The particles were detected using Nile Red dye, which binds to plastic polymer, with researchers filming everything to prove there was no contamination.

Brands tested, included:

  • Aquafina
  • Dasani
  • Evian
  • Nestle Pure Life
  • San Pellegrino
  • Aqua
  • Bisleri
  • Erupa
  • Gerolsteiner
  • Minalba
  • Wahaha

Even though, as of yet, there is no evidence to suggest that the plastic particles are damaging to our health, WHO has announced they will launch an investigation into potential harmful effects.

“When we think about the composition of the plastic, whether there might be toxins in it, to what extent they might carry harmful constituents, what actually the particles might do in the body – there’s just not the research there to tell us,” Bruce Gordon from WHO told the BBC News.

“We normally have a ‘safe’ limit but to have a safe limit, to define that, we need to understand if these things are dangerous, and if they occur in water at concentrations that are dangerous.”

Around 260 billion plastic bottles were sold in 2016 around the world.

Images: Unsplash 

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Susan Devaney

Susan Devaney is a digital journalist for Stylist.co.uk, writing about fashion, beauty, travel, feminism, and everything else in-between.

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