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Microplastics found in 93% of bottled water tested in global study (cbc.ca)
316 points by nothrows 10 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 159 comments

Bottled water is a scam. It's less regulated than municipal tap water in most developed nations, companies suck up water from small towns and use tons of fuel to ship it out of those watersheds and then charge people 1000% markup.

For countries without clean water, the effort should be put into getting municipal water supplies.

Don't buy plastic disposable water bottles if you live in a developed nation. They prop up a terrible industry, generate tons of waste, use tons of oil and it's less clean than just drinking from a water fountain.

Edit: the documentary Tapped is a great film about the bottled water industry, and Blue Gold is a good one about the water industry in general.

Having a 1000% markup doesn't make it a scam. The raw material is practically free so anything they charge is going to be a huge markup. There's lots of competition and people are willing to buy it. What's wrong with that? You're not paying for the water, but for all the other value that comes along with it. You can carry it around, or store it in your car, or whatever. You don't have to remember to fill up the water bottle whenever you go out because you can just get a new full one anywhere. That takes mental burden off people so they can focus on more important things. You can give one to someone else without worrying about spreading meningitis. You can take a carton of them on a group trip without asking everyone to rinse out and old milk bottle the day before. There's value in making people's lives easier.

What's wrong with using tons of oil? It's not being burnt so it doesn't contribute to climate change. Are you concerned that it's wasting the valuable oil that would be better used to power a car or power station?

> What's wrong with using tons of oil? It's not being burnt so it doesn't contribute to climate change. Are you concerned that it's wasting the valuable oil that would be better used to power a car or power station?

Instead of having a VLCC bringing crude to a Gulf Coast refinery where a large part is converted into propylene for bottle and cap production, the crude could be kept safely in its original well, unused. If the demand for propylene (et al) is reduced, refiners would alter their production to make less, ultimately lowering their crude intake, ceteris paribus.

>What's wrong with using tons of oil?

Plastics are incredibly useful. Tons upon tons of bottles end up in landfills, oceans, etc. Even with plastic recycling, PET yields aren't 100%. There is only so much oil and eventually the plastics we have will cease to be recyclable.

I'm not trying to say that it's wrong to use a disposable plastic bottle from time to time. There's not anything wrong with having a case of water. But no one with access to clean water should primarily use disposable bottles. It's lazy and shortsighted.

We will never run out of oil, as it can be synthesized from organic waste (basically just by cooking the crap out of it). Right now it's not really a profitable enterprise in competition with ground based oil, but at some point it will be. And it's carbon neutral (as is everything that doesn't involve digging up basically pure carbon and burning it).

Of course, all of your other points are spot on. It is irresponsible to use such a permanent material for so much disposable stuff.

> We will never run out of oil, as it can be synthesized from organic waste (basically just by cooking the crap out of it)

Powered by what? Oil?

What's the efficiency of that? How long are you willing to wait if you don't use combustible carbons?

Supposedly, fueling the process by burning the product is about 85% efficient [1]. Regardless, the point is we will always be able to make plastic, even when the wells dry up. The worst that'll happen is the price will go up.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thermal_depolymerization

Oil is a limited resource that can be used for way more important things than disposable water bottles, such as medical supplies (syringes, IV bags, etc) and durable plastics components. Plastics themselves are a great resource that should not be wasted, not least because of the amount of energy and water it takes to produce them.

Most plastic bottles are burnt, so they do contribute to climate change; the small percentage of bottles that actually are recycled cannot be turned into new bottles --- plastics are always downcycled; recycled plastics are sometimes mixed in with virgin plastic pellets, but it's usually a relatively small amount of the total.

(I'm setting up an educational project for school classes on the topic of plastic recycling and renewable energy.)

Plastic is created with a by-product of diesel/gasoline, so since it is going to be created anyways it is not very wasteful.

Monomers like ethylene are a by-product of splitting oil; you still need polymerization and processing of the polymers (e.g. extruding, moulding, etc).

It's non-sequitur to say that the process is not wasteful because part of the initial work is done to obtain gasoline. Oil itself is a limited resource.

Are we actually experiencing a syringe shortage because there's not enough plastic to go around?

No. But should we only begin prioritizing the allocation of resources once it has become a problem?

If it is correct that it will become increasingly uneconomical to process crude oil, the supply of virgin plastic will eventually decrease. It makes sense to reduce wasteful usage of that resource before that becomes a problem.

this doesn't address the fact that all that plastic will then end up in landfills or in the ocean. within three decades, some models predict there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish. and since we consume those fish, we will likely suffer detriments to our health because of it.

>It's not being burnt

Not for thermal energy, but it is still being heated and the bits of the hydrocarbon chain that are not wanted are going... where? The process still uses energy and iirc most of the world, particularly where manufacturing occurs, is not using renewables. Maybe Nuclear if you're lucky.

25% of US municipal drinking water fails Safety standards: https://www.popsci.com/drinking-water-standards

Those standards are also very loose IMO letting a lot of crap though that I don't want to drink on a regular basis. So, it's really more of a mixed bag than you might think.

> Don't buy plastic disposable water bottles if you live in a developed nation

I´m playing with semantics here. But some parts of USA hardly count as developed states. As a country, the USA is overachieving in a lot of measures, but individual states found themselves at the same level than developing nations.

It´s difficult to apply the same rule to 10,000,000km2 of territory and 325 Million people.

Does that mean the US can get officially recognized as a developing nation and get all the perks? Guaranteed the US would start pushing more initiatives like the Paris Climate Accord if they got the economic benefits, would be great for the climate change movement

Their point was it isn't accurate to apply a single label to the entire USA not that the single label should be changed.

If you live in one of those areas you're far better off with a filtration system than regularly purchasing bottled water which is also not in any way guaranteed to be safe.

It can take a lot to filter water safely. The classic carbon filter under the sink does very little to improve safety, even reverse osmosis can fall short. So, while you can make things safer it's far more difficult than many assume.

Sounds like the best option is to buy bottled water, and then filter out the microplastics.

Most problems with plastics are chemical not physical contamination. (It is a solution of plasticizers and substrates in water.)

I am pretty sure ingesting plastic sand would be nowhere newer bad without these. (Intestine shouldn't take that in.)

These are extra hard to filter out. Even big fermentation tanks and reverse osmosis filters have problems with this.

There is also the danger of microplastic particles acting as endocrine disruptors. This is a rapidly developing field within (eco)toxicology and is of growing concern among environmental scientists.




Reverse osmosis should do the trick.

I'll add that there is a deeply ingrained myth that New York City tap water is "the best in the world" when in fact it's not even among the 10 cleanest water supplies in the country and contains concerning amounts of dangerous pollutants like chloroform.

All the more reason to push for our governments to properly regulate a safe supply of drinking water (infrastructure level).

Governments that do this in Europe fail horribly and just increase prices by huge multiples, nothing else. Last year a whole division of a capital city (Prague) got pretty seriously sick because of government failure. Today in the morning the water did not run at all. Thanks, government.

I know HN is very leftist, so I expect downvotes. It'd be nice to have a discussion though.

Last time I checked, we had very decent municipal water in France. In many cities it actually tastes better than bottled water. Water sources are quite well protected as well. It's not perfect, but honestly much better than the swimming pool water I drank in the US.

So "Europe" is maybe a broad term here.

I think it's weird that whenever the subject of safe drinking water comes up, people immediately talk about how it tastes. As if that matters. I mean, lead is pretty tasty, too.

Once you sampled enough public water in your month around the world, you tend to associate bad taste with bad quality. Water that doesn't make you sick has a very subtle one, or taste like a swimming pool. But you won't drink the second one so...

Nice TIL: lead acetate for me there.

Agreed about "Europe" being too broad a term. Another commenter mentioned a similar sentiment about making claims about the entire USA.

UK water is safe and decent. Although here in London it's very hard and so tastes like crap.

There are places where it's better or even very good in the Czech Rep. as well. The point is that sometimes, government fails horribly and there is no way out because well, it's the government, its whole job is to enforce its rule. BTW the USA as a whole is comparable to the EU as a whole in terms of corruption and competency.

Governments are very malleable over time. Change is not necessarily cheap, but it's also inherent.

One occurrence l of failure in one city in one European country is not an indication of ongoing issues in all European countries.

Would love to hear about systematic issues in Sweden, Germany, Norway, France, Belgium, Switzerland etc. All have strong government role in regulation and municipal water supplies.

Your comment implying political bias for everyone who disagrees with you is cheap rhetoric. And, the US is so far right on the political spectrum that anyone “leftist” there is likely to the right of the center in the EU.

In Bergen, Norway a few years ago there was a problem with water contamination. Basically city negleted to upgrade the filtering system and after few atipically mild winters and/or population growth near watter sources some microorganisms managed to grow in sufficient quantities to pass through the old very basic filters. People in affected districts were advised to drink bottled water as even boiling watter was not enough to kill all microorganisms.

>"Governments that do this in Europe fail horribly and just increase prices by huge multiples, nothing else." That's a very strong statement to make based on one example. That would like saying that the US has no quality control, look at Flint. As an argument for less government, this just isn't very strong. It would help to show a systematic failure instead of a singular event. But, I could imagine if that were to happen where I live, I would be pretty angry at whoever caused it as well.

That is not a proof that governments cannot regulate water quality. The water quality in the Netherlands is really good, tap water is better than most bottled waters.

All you have shown is that Czech government needs to improve.

Maybe it's your implementation of government, not the concept itself that's at fault. Having lived in Germany for 30 years, I never experienced anything like that nor met anyone who has.

You can't really make expectations based on literally one of the best cases.

Citations? I don't know much about European handling of drinking water.

http://www.radio.cz/en/section/news/two-charged-over-contami... (this is a government-sponsored public radio)

Austria here and I am very satisfied with my "socialist water" experience. Exposing basic requirements for survival to free market forces seems like a recipe for failure.

What about food?

Maybe this is different in Eastern Europe (you know, the old Warsaw pact countries), but in Western Europe tap water is of very reliable quality, and consistently delivered.

I'm comparing the EU as a whole to the USA as a whole because it's pretty much the same in terms of competence and corruption. BTW Czech Republic is the most successful out one of Warsaw Pact countries and is on basically the same level as some of the western ones.

If that's what you want to say, then say that instead of making blanket claims that governments regulating drinking water fail horribly.

Well most of western Europe has cheap perfectly drinkable water. I don't think you can blame social democracy. Blame incompetent and corrupt locals.

The EU as a whole is very comparable to the USA as a whole in terms of competence and corruption. This was my point - somewhere it'd be OK or even very good, but somewhere it's going to be horrible and there is going to be no way out.

I'd be very surprised if the water in Prague was consistently bad. One failure doesn't mean much in the big picture.

Edit: And it certainly isn't comparable to having water that's not safe to drink at all (bad water being the rule, rather than the exception).

Bottled water is a classic example of profiting off of regulatory arbitrage.

In well-developed countries, bottled water is easy money: move to a friendly jurisdiction, ship a transportable product out, and sell to a self-selecting, discretionary customer base at obscene markups. It's pure profit.

In less-developed countries, bottled water is enabled by and further perpetuates structural inequality: it provides clean water to those who are willing and able pay for it, without the infrastructure and maintenance load of municipal piping, dealing with governments, or having to be exposed to risks that coincide with this inequality, including theft, leaks, and distributed contamination.

It's bad to perpetuate structural inequality within a country but not between countries? Or do you also agree that it's wrong for developed countries to have clean tap water because it gives their citizens an advantage over citizens of poorer countries? Preventing disease is very simply a good thing. How can you possibly say that you want people to be sick just to make life more fair?

When I visited India, the locals recommended me to always drink bottled water or else I'd get really sick.

Maybe in the US, it can be solved on a city-by-city basis. For some other countries, I think it's a much more complex problem.

Morocco as well. Be sure to check the seal because they refill them with tap water and sell it on the street. You can get sick even from washing your teeth with tap water. Sick as in ruin your vacation, not sick as in really sick.

> You can get sick even from washing your teeth with tap water. Sick as in ruin your vacation, not sick as in really sick.

I mean, I'd call HAV "really sick". Even for people who clear the infection without assistance and no long-term complications, it's rather involved and goes far beyond simply "ruin your vacation".

Not HAV but other stuff that's prevalent and they're quite immune to it while westeners are not. Of course you can also get HAV as well if you aren't careful.

How much is it because of reality and how much is because pf propaganda?

People on Brazil will always tell you to drink bottled water too, yet all the safety issues that make into news (always a very small note at the end of the news) are with bottled water and the sanitary standards are much more strict with tap water.

Indian waters are very, very polluted. And the pipes are in bad shape, so when the rain season arrives, a lot of dirty stuff get inside.

I drink a little bit of public water in asia or africa from time to time because I'm lazy. 99% of the time it's fine. But when it's not, it's heavy brown pants time, and I'm much, MUCH more tolerant than the average white guy when it comes to food poisoning because I traveled so much. In some countries (E.G venezuala), you can get amoebas out of it. And it's really annoying.

So basically yes, bottled water (and check the seal), or soda.

In some countries (e.g mali, sri lanka), they have water pockets, basically small plastic "balloons" of water than you bite then drink from. It uses less plastic than bottles, but yeah, it still finds it's way into the sea.

At least in many cases, it's grounded in reality. For example, traveler's diarrhea[1] and hepatitis A[2] are fairly common for Westerns traveling. Hep A isn't a serious issue for locals, because of exposure from childhood - it's similar to how Westerners (in the US, at least) get the chickenpox as children, then rarely have it again in adulthood. But if they get it in adulthood, it's usually far more serious/complicated than the childhood variant. You're very likely to get exposure to Hep A if traveling to many countries, and if you haven't had a vaccination for it then you'll have a pretty crappy time of things as your body gets introduced to something that historically your body has been around since birth.

Hence recommending bottled water, as a precaution to prevent exposure. However, in reality everything around you has been washed, cleaned, laundered, or cooked in local water. And your shower/bath will not be in bottled water. So your exposure is still there, just lessened. Not to mention people that drink bottled water, but poor it into a glass of ice (which was created from non-bottled, local water).

[1] https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/travelers-dia... [2] https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/diseases/hepatitis-a

[1] https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/travelers-dia...

> How much is it because of reality and how much is because pf propaganda?

Being from that neck of the woods, it's reality. My brother (coming from the U.S. to visit) was hospitalized for days when he was 5-6 because he ate some food off a plate that had been washed in the local water.

Why do you blame the water and not the food?

Hospital diagnosis.

I think some of that is that you're only spending a week or two in the country and they don't want you to remember it as the time you were stuck on the toilet with a constantly exploding ass. Even if it is not likely that you'll get sick, the potential is high enough that it's better to just buy some bottled water instead.

> For countries without clean water, the effort should be put into getting municipal water supplies.

And until the problem has been fixed, what exactly are they supposed to drink?

Third world countries I'm familiar with use the big office-type bottles which are reusable and not as wasteful. https://i.stack.imgur.com/TfVHl.jpg

Usually they have water purifiers. From simple ceramic filters to fancy machines using reverse osmosis and UV treatment.

In Thailand for example, they have vending machines dispensing drinking water into your own bottle.

We have a lot of them in the US. The usual ones are water machines for the big jugs like at Walmart. However, the companies selling machines that make bags of ice are adding purified water to their machines, too. One can see many styles by typing these words into Google images: ice vending machine bagged list.

Including the specific words since I got more nonsense results doing this search than about any other this year. Terms are too overloaded.

I grew up in a developing country. We boiled all our tap water for drinking.

I suspect most developing areas without clean water supplies are simultaneously unable to afford buying bottled water. They're often drinking dirty water, which they may or may not treat.

Parts of the US have tap water you better not drink. I would imagine China is even worse.

Bottled water is cheap, they buy it in 5 gallon bottles. I've seen that in many countries.

what do you suggest for people who cannot tolerate the taste of some tap water. The one in my area taste very metallic and makes tea/coffee brewed with it have an unpleasant flavor. I bought a brita-like water filter with great reviews on amazon, but despite that, some of the metallic flavor remains. My old home had a reverse osmosis system which tasted amazing, but I'm not going to invest in a super expensive water system for the apartment I am renting. I just want good tasting water

Buy a reverse osmosis system that you don’t have to install. They have them at Bulk Reef Supply for $100. Get one with a built in tds meter. It’s worth it. They come with every adapter you might need.

I started using mine for drinking water after Scott Pruitt was confirmed.

You can get a reverse osmosis system for ~$150. Maybe not cheap, but not super expensive either. Even if you're renting for a year and leave it behind that's less then $0.50 a day over one year.

Which leaves you with classical-clean-US-water - no taste, nothing. Doesn't taste good, doesn't taste bad, it's just not there.

The best-tasting glass of water I've ever had was at the Galway Bay Hotel in Ireland. It tasted like slightly sweet and mossy. I've wanted to recreate that flavor in water ever since, but have no idea where to start.

I was concerned about that. Aren't there suppliers that sell mineral packets or something to fix that? Anyone know about that or have recommendations?

I would highly recommend an inexpensive under-sink water filter, hooked up to the cold water line. I have a 3M "Aqua-Pure" which is far more convenient than the pitcher style, and probably filters better. I use it for everything; drinking water and cooking are the obvious options, but it also improved the flavor of my homebrew beer.

Hear, hear. I have a sensitive sense of smell (and thus taste) and tap water here (in a huge metropolitan city in the U.S.) tastes like chlorine, and it's a little sweet. People here say it's "delicious."

To avoid drinking "delicious" tap water I drink bottled water, and I have for decades. Also, fluoride in the tap water? No, thank you. I don't get cavities because I eat well and brush correctly.

This is how I feel about tap water as well. In many places I lived, and in my current city people like the tap water and it is supposed to be delicious but it is not. How are people overlooking such obvious notes of chlorine and that little sweetness?

get a megahome distiller. Doesn't require installation, so you can take it with . you when you laeve. Be prepared to be disgusted by the residue remaining.

does it also make moonshine?

Get some water purifier with coal.

> what do you suggest for people who cannot tolerate the taste of some tap water

Drink it until you get used to it, people are remarkably adaptable and will get used to just about anything if they're exposed to it long enough. In the case of water a month should be more than enough.

Reverse ismosis filtered water water. Less expensive in the ling run.

Just my personal experience: tap water in US tastes bad, bottled watered in US tastes also bad ("purified" water). As European on business trip I was forced to buy San Pellegrino or other imported (and expensive :/) brands. On the plane they also give "purified" water -> distilled water + salt.

You go to a restaurant, they insist on infinite refill on that bad tasting water...

I'm seriously not surprised with so called "Raw Water" movement in US.

What if you want to avoid fluoride?

Out of interest, why?

Probably the same reason why people may want to avoid lead, mercury in tuna or microplastics: Science is always trying to figure out the safe levels of consumption. Especially for something consumed your entire life starting as a fetus.

Endocrine disruptor and neurotoxin.

Move to Portland I guess

Agree. However, and I'm not trolling, what about Flint MI and a number of other US cities with moderate and ongoing water issues (e.g., Trenton NJ)?

I test my bottled water and it has ~4ppm of stuff in it... my well water has ~400ppm of stuff... I would rather drink the purest one... I could buy a reverse osmosis system to purify my water but I would not be saving money.

The people in my city that have city water often complain about cloudy water, so it's not any better (maybe worst).

Say all you want but tap water just doesn't taste as good. Fix that problem and people won't mind switching.

The flavour partially down to several factors.

Psychology is one. Many blind tests of tap water filled in bottles has people fooled.

Temperature is another. Ice cool water, from office water coolers, or just with ice cubes. Partially again psychology but cool water tastes better, tap or not.

Source and water treatment obviously matters the most. In my experience tap water in Norway tastes really nice. It is where I grew up so my taste buds expect water to taste like that so that may be a reason, but I think it is also down to the source of the water and its filtration technology. And it is cold water. I only choose to drink bottled water there when it is more convenient, not for flavour. (Other mountainous, water-rich 1st world countries I have been to also seems to have nice flavoured water).

But where I live now, in another flat, full of people country, the tap water is very safe and clean but I do not like the flavour. I still drink it to quench a thirst but prefer bottled when there is a choice.

So I guess for large parts of the world the flavour will be decided by where they live.

Filters like https://www.brita.com probably makes it nicer but at an individual cost and less convenient.

I’ll take NYC tap water against any bottled water worldwide.

Sure it’s totally subjective and anecdata, but my sample size is over 100 brands in 20+ countries.

> I’ll take NYC tap water against any bottled water worldwide.

Me too, but NYC is a major outlier when it comes to water quality. NYC water was, quite literally, sold as bottled water for a while.

Most other places in the country have nowhere near the quality of tap water that NYC has.

For anyone else wondering what effect microplastics actually have on the human body, it looks like the effects are still up in the air. Animal studies [0] show that microplastics can be taken up by tissue and circulation, and they are also present in the air [1]. Not sure what impact drinking bottled water would have on concentration inside the body. I couldn't find any long term studies on their effect on cancer, which is my main concern for any foreign contaminant entering the body.

Food (or drink :) for thought!

[0] https://setac.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/ieam.5...

[1] https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-319-71279-6_...

Cancer is obviously no good, but other terrible life damaging consequences can also happen. Witness lead poisoning, with its reduced IQ and tendency towards violence for people who've ingested or breathed in lead. Also bad would be clogging of capillaries and causing some strange diabetes, with subsequent organ damage. Reduced fertility is another concerning type of biological damage.

All of these are life-changing and won't kill you on short order. I think these kinds of damages are more pernicious as they're less obvious but still impact your quality of life, and maybe more so than living in a developing country.

We know that a lot of nasty (carcinogenic) chemicals will bond to plastics, poisoning any animal that ingests it.

If you can't get the plastics out of the water you can't get the other chemicals out, because the plastic has already grabbed it.

Or not..

"believed to be microplastics"

"there is a chance the Nile Red dye is adhering to another unknown substance other than plastic."

So it may, or may not be microplastics that they found/counted.

Full quote: "Mason's team was able to identify specific plastics over 100 microns (0.10 mm) in size but not smaller particles. According to experts contacted by CBC News, there is a chance the Nile Red dye is adhering to another unknown substance other than plastic."

Key point: they're unsure about the smaller particles, but they're sure about the bigger ones. There is microplastics in the samples.

Not only that, but we have no idea what the "safe levels" are. They say it's only roughly double that of tap water, which doesn't seem alarming to me.

That's not too surprising, given that this problem of consuming plastics is a relatively new one. There likely hasn't been enough time to fully understand the implications of eating tiny plastic particles. I doubt that they are all expelled from your body with other wastes given that this isn't something your body naturally deals with. More research is needed.

What else could it be? I'm going to assume it wasn't found in the baseline test and it is something that shouldn't be there.

There isn't a whole lot to "manufacturing" water.

Tap water is about the same, old one: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/sep/06/plastic-...

This is just our devouring of the planet, nothing to see here. Now reinsert head in ass and press play.

At least tap water doesn't come in disposable plastic bottles that end up as microplastics in our water supply

Here are the actual results: https://orbmedia.org/stories/plus-plastic

I wish there had been more European water brands tested, as out of this list I only know Evian and San Pellegrino, and they are the two least contaminated brands, but they are also a bit more upscale than what most people drink.

They also tend to come in glass or cans.

While there may be some questions regarding the exact methodologies used in this study and its accuracy, it is still pretty fucking scary to hear that microplastics are in so much of the water we drink and bottled companies are not filtering it out sufficiently.

Especially considering that the oil filter in your car is good to tens of microns for tens of thousands of gallons and costs ~$5.

You'd think that if you're running an industrial plant (at a scale where multi-stage filters, centrifugal separation, etc, etc are economically viable) you'd be able to do a heck of a lot better than 10 100 micron particles per liter.

To be fair, I think these microplastics accumulate in the water after they have been bottled.

I didn't think it had anything to do with plastic from the bottles the water is sold in. Where is that assumption coming from?

"It's not clear how the plastic is getting into the bottled water — whether it's the water source itself or the air or the manufacturing and bottling process.

"Even the simple act of opening the cap could cause plastic to be chipping off the cap," Mason said."

I assumed the reason bottled water tastes strongly of plastic was because the plastic of the bottle was leeching into the water.

0.1 millimeter or larger is not really that small, it's the size of fine sand. I admittedly never look for sand in bottled water but just assumed that such large particles would never make it through the filters.

I use a Berkey filtration system and feel mildly optimistic about not drinking plastic every time I fill my glass. From late September, 2017 [0].

> "There is nowhere really where you can say these are being trapped 100%. In terms of fibres, the diameter is 10 microns across and it would be very unusual to find that level of filtration in our drinking water systems.” With that being said, we know that the berkey can filter down to 2 microns and less, so until testing is done, we can only state that the berkey would be filtering out more of these microplastics than your town's municipal water filtering system


Hmmm...the site cites this exact study in its marketing material.


Scary shit. An aside: what are people using for tap filters? Is Brita still the go-to company, or are there other better solutions?

Pur supposedly filters out a greater percentage of many different solutes than the standard Brita, but it looks like Brita came out with a new filter that does better than their old one. A longer discussion: https://thewirecutter.com/reviews/best-water-filter-pitcher/

Tap filters like Brita decrease quality of tap water, at least here in Germany. They are quickly contaminated with bacteria and microbes.

Pur filters produce water that tastes better than Brita. From hard country well-water to harsh chlorine city water, Pur tastes markedly better for me.

Hmm. That's concerning.

I had more or less switched entirely off bottled water and now only use a combination of filtered tap water + reusable insulated bottles ala Kleen Kanteen at home and work, but I have recently started buying more sparkling water / club soda in an attempt to ween myself off Coke.

Perhaps it's time I take the plunge and buy a SodaStream or comparable water carbonator.

I have a kegerator and always have 5 gallons of soda water on tap, I highly recommend making your own water. I would buy a 5 pound tank of CO2 and a few 2L bottles instead of a soda stream.

I worked in a lab and where we used an atomic force microscope to scan single DNA strands on flat surfaces. At first we couldn't "read" anything as the surface was covered in gunk from the water we used, switching to water in glass bottles fixed this.

I live in the U.S. The tap water in my neck of the woods is disgusting. It is a water tank on top of a hill that has open vents and is surrounded by trees, moss and much worse. There is nothing stopping anyone from throwing a water balloon filled with (insert whatever) at the vent. Hikers pass it every day at vent level. The pipes leading up to it leak about 20k gallons of water into the mountainside every day. There are testing taps every few miles on my road and I see them sometimes taking samples. I do not feel comfortable even showering in this water. I certainly would not drink it intentionally.

For bottled water, I get the bottles made of rigid plastic that may have less chance of leaching chemicals over a short period of time. Only time will tell if I chose correctly.

Now that we know that microplastics are in our water supply, what do we do to protect ourselves? Do reverse osmosis filters, etc, at home get rid of these plastics? It certainly sounds dangerous and scary but I don't know what I need to do or should do, which is frustrating.

Petition your local government to treat municipal water for microplastics. Petition your federal government to tackle the root problem of why microplastics end up in the water in the first place.

You've skipped a step. Before protecting yourself, what not find out what harm it causes? Sounding scary is not the same as being scary. Everything in the news sounds scary, that's why it's in the news, not because it's a real problem that needs to be solved.

When we moved to Boulder from New York recently we got some really weird looks for buying a plastic bottle of water at the store. I actually felt some joy from receiving that tacit disapproval. Soon after we joined the herd in using stainless steel bottles in our car, backpacks, etc - something we aspired to in New York but was hard to commit to when there's a deli on every corner.

>we got some really weird looks

I have a hard time believing a movie scene played out in the 7-11 with everyone staring at you for buying a bottle of water.

Or, if you looked around and people were crinkling their eyebrows at you, I wouldn't assume it was because of the bottled water.

I wonder what the contamination stats are for canned water, carton water and glass bottle water. I do drink a lot of carbonated lacroix.

Let's remember the macroplastic of the bottle holding the water that outside Flint, MI is unnecessary pollution in nearly every country of people reading these words.

We can all stop buying bottled water. It won't solve every problem, but it will solve a lot of this one, while saving you money and focusing people on cleaning your current sources.

I was wondering if there was anything that established what microplastics actually do. Found an interesting paper here: http://resodema.org/publications/publication9.pdf

For the curious, the paper only addresses marine biology, according to the abstract.

"It's so difficult to get people to care about things they can't see."

I drink a specific brand of bottled water because I don't like the taste of tap water. Filtering it takes some of the bad taste away, but adds none of the good.

I'll have to add "microplastic" as another one of my favorite spices.

You could probably learn what minerals is in it, buy a boatload of it in bulk for $5 and live healthy and happy for the rest of your life.

More than once I felt mild nausea after drinking directly from a bottle, whereas pouring the water out of the bottle into a glass was fine.

I suspect it’s not just what’s in the water but the bottle itself that’s not good.

You're saying the mere action of touching your lips to the bottle is what induced nausea?

Couldn't the microplastics just come from the plastic bottles the water is bottled in?

I'm surprised we are not using plant based plastics.

We should move to plant based plastics.

How would that be better?

If you use the right plants, it probably won't be carcinogenic/non-biodegradable. ("Bio" being your insides)

From what I understand "bioplastic" is just "plastic" made from non-petroleum sources. "Biodegradable" or "compostable" plastic is just microplastic particles held together with cellulose. Neither of these necessarily sound better for putting in my body.

Keep in mind they only tested 11 brands from 9 countries.

“Only” 250 bottles from 11 brands and 9 countries from different continents. I think this is more than anyone could ask for for an initial study, usually it would be done for a single region.

According to them: Avoid Nestle Pure Life. San Pellegrino, Evian, and Dasani are OK.

>According to them: Avoid Nestle Pure Life. San Pellegrino, Evian, and Dasani are OK.

Naah, water is usually bottled locally, they tested some brands in:

U.S., Kenya, China, Brazil, India, Indonesia, Lebanon, Mexico and Thailand

(and called it "global"), but a same brand may - even in the same country - come from a different spring or bottling plant, so you are never "safe" (nor "in danger") because of this or that brand.

Just in case the actual "paper" (actualy only a "report"):


And as a side note/observation, the classification of any plastic particle smaller than 5 millimeters as "microplastics" has been given (and it makes sense) in the context of marine/ocean related sciences:


it makes (to me) little sense to call "micro" anything that can be seen by the naked eye in the context of impurities in a bottle of water.

5 mm?

Come on, they are nearly the size of marbles we played with as kids ...

I don't know about the others but Evian and San Pellegrino each come from one source, respectively situated in Évian-les-Bains, France and San Pellegrino Terme, Italy.

>I don't know about the others but Evian and San Pellegrino each come from one source, respectively situated in Évian-les-Bains, France and San Pellegrino Terme, Italy.

Yes, that applies to San Pellegrino (and most probably Evian also) but San Pellegrino (the company, which is anyway Nestlè) has 6 bottling plants in Italy:


While it is true that San Pellegrino brand water is exclusively coming from San Pellegrino (and as well Acqua Panna comes from Scarperia only and Levissima comes from Cepina Valdisotto only) the other three plants are anyway marked as "Nestlè Vera" (with of course a distincion on the spring, respectively "fonte in Bosco", "fonte Santa Rosalia", "fonte Naturae")[1].

I believe (possibly I am wrong) that in many (non-EU) countries the bottled water is more like a "pure brand" than a "specific spring".

[1]See page 63 of this .pdf:


Wish I knew where Kirkland stood on this. I drink that stuff like... water.

Kirkland sources their products with regional/national producers and rebrands them. So the contents of your Kirkland water depend on which Costco you purchase it from.

Source: A friend of mine brokers deals with producers to rebrand them as Kirkland products. Perishables like 'Kirkland' Ham, 'Kirkland' Cheese, 'Kirkland' Ice Cream are packaged by different companies depending on the Costco (Costco Canada, Costco East Coast, Costco West Coast). Where as other stuff like 'Kirkland' jeans are brokered globally. Water likely falls at the national/regional level with one of the major brands, so 'Kirkland' water in Canada is likely a different kind of 'Kirkland' water sold in California.

I wonder if any supermarkets just ship empty bottles and fill it on location?

But which Nestle Pure Life? They're not all sourced from the same place, are they?

Somebody got paid to find out if water in plastic bottles has plastic in it.

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