Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Microplastics found in 93% of bottled water tested in global study (cbc.ca)
785 points by simonebrunozzi 26 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 368 comments



It's good to see the honest qualifications in the article:

>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.

>Mason leaves open that possibility but leans strongly to the smaller particles being plastic.

>The developer of the Nile Red method agrees.

>Fluorescing particles that were too small to be analyzed should be called "probable microplastic," said Andrew Mayes, senior lecturer in chemistry at the University of East Anglia in the U.K.


For practical purpose does it matter? It detects non-water particles(pollution) in twice higher ratio than in tap water and plastic bottled water is sold as way purer than tap water with 1000 time higher price. Basically it's scam.


There's a lot of glass bottled water too, at least in Germany.


And plenty of aluminum cans of water as well, not to mention aluminum recycling is perhaps the most implemented recycling effort of any materials.


Aluminum cans are typically lined with plastic.


But it doesn't get released as easily. I've read a few weeks ago a thread on an ultralight backpacking forum where they were discussing cooking in beer can. They were pulling spec docs and Lab tests of how much plastic gets released if they cook in those cans. The results was that they release about 0.01% of FDA limit. So, according to ultralight backpackers on that forum, it should be safe.


I'm not really sure how much glass or aluminum containers would matter to the fundamental point?

The plant that purifies the water and puts it into the glass and aluminum containers almost certainly uses plastic or rubber tubing in its machinery. So you'd likely get some plastic particles transferred there as well. In the end, I'd be willing to bet that tap water has fewer micro plastics than water bottled in glass or aluminum.

Problem, of course, is that your municipality likely uses some form of metal piping to get water to your tap. Which, depending on what all that is, could mean elevated lead levels etc.

It's a tough problem.


In a similar vein, does anyone know of any conclusive studies on the safety of PEX plumbing wrt releasing microplastics into our drinking water. My home is primarily PEX. It would be nice to know if I'm slowly poisoning my family.


> Problem, of course, is that your municipality likely uses some form of metal piping to get water to your tap. Which, depending on what all that is, could mean elevated lead levels etc.

Not a metallurgist, but I am pretty sure there are metal alloys that do not contain lead.


(that's carbonated water in glass bottles)


Since the parent comment says "Germany" I can say with confidence: We have both, so that qualifier is not true unless you specifically buy exactly carbonated water. It is true though that for whatever reason that I just cannot comprehend the majority of water sold in bottles in this country (Germany) is carbonated. nor can I understand why so much of it is sold - tap water is very good in most places. I know a water engineer at the local municipal water company and she too only drinks tap water. On the other hand so many Germans are extremely fixated on price, it's even more incomprehensible how irrational it is that my fellow Germans buy so much bottled water. I googled for "why do Germans buy bottled water instead of tap water" and unsurprisingly found that I'm not the first one to ask that question (first link of several, as an example, which sums it up pretty well: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/expat/expatlife/10661118/Why-do-...).

Oh and if somebody asks about "but what about chlorinated tap water" - that is less common in Germany. I cannot detect anything but "water" in the places I visit in various German states. Anyone concerned about such things can get a water filter, they are plentiful in supermarkets, mostly these types: https://i.pinimg.com/736x/31/ed/ff/31edff1af777601ac16d33292...

The website of my own municipal water company (of a large Bavarian city) says water is chlorinated only when it is absolutely necessary, and that if they do it they will also stop as soon as possible. So that is a temporary measure when something happened but not usually done.

We (in Germany) do have a nitrate problem in a lot of places. We even got reprimanded by the EU about that only recently. The reason is agriculture, of course. (https://www.euractiv.com/section/agriculture-food/news/eu-cl...)


> It is true though that for whatever reason that I just cannot comprehend the majority of water sold in bottles in this country (Germany) is carbonated.

When I was a kid, my parents would only buy carbonated water. Still water was available from the tap. Today, I stopped buying even that, I can carbonate my water myself.

As to why we buy so much bottled water: Marketing. Some waters have a distinct taste, but at least for me, it’s just a matter of getting used to a different tap water taste when moving.


How do you carbonate water yourself?


I use one of those https://www.amazon.de/ISI-Edelstahl-Schwarz-8-5-31-5/dp/B011..., but others exist, for example sodastream. I prefer mine because it doesn’t require some apparatus that take space on the kitchen counter.


There are all kinds of pressurized gas devices to use:

https://www.amazon.com/SodaStream-Sparkling-Water-Starter-Si...


There may exist non-carbonated water in glass bottles, but non-carbonated water isn't that popular: In 2014, only 13% of water sold was 'still', but only 23% all water sold was sold in glass bottles [1]. Given that most still water comes in plastic bottles, I'd say the amount of still water sold in glass bottles is rather small.

[1] https://www.spiegel.de/wirtschaft/unternehmen/mineralwasser-...


In response to your first link: If you do want tap water in a restaurant, as long as you order another drink as well they'll be fine with it.


Nope, there's both plain (table, mineral) and carbornated water available in glass.


we should start calling bottled water "plastic water"


> we should start calling bottled water "plastic water"

Might that be surprisingly effective as way to reduce bottled water use?

As a drop-in replacement for the phrase "bottled water", it meme-ishly supports interpersonal and self discouragement of use: "Here's your plastic water dear."; "Don't forget to buy my plastic water.".

The "plasticness" of bottles is highly salient when opening, handling, and trashing them, and is associated with the pollution. Imagine an ad with someone opening a bottle, with putting-down-the-cap noise, making that "crunching" bottle noise, drinking from and looking at a bottle, and recycling it, all while describing plastic "dust" and its health and ecosystem issues. So that bottle handling becomes a memory trigger for the issues and an associate visceral "yuck".

Nifty idea.


I already call it that way, but for different reasons.

My wife only drinks carbonated bottled water as she's a germaphobe and dislikes home-carbonators (I've tried everything...), but once she became pregnant I had to start dragging her bottles up to our apartment. I became very resentful of the fact that I had to either buy and drag glass or plastic bottles up to our flat only to bring them back to the store empty.

So I started calling it plastic water as a minor display of rebellion. She doesn't care though. :(


All that carbonic acid can't be great for her teeth.


Is microplastics what give cheap water bottles that particular off-flavor?


Not necessarily. I doubt you could taste particles, unless they are truly molecule-sized nano to be able to bind to taste receptors? I think you need molecules. Which plastic bottles, depending on the exact kind of plastic and how it was manufactured, may have plenty of - it's not just the ideal "plastic" material, the carbon chains, but plenty of other kinds of molecules dissolved in between. In text books the different kinds of plastic are always represented with the main molecule - but not just is there no such thing as a 100% pure substance in a real-world manufacturing process, in addition all kinds of other molecules are added deliberately - temporarily during a manufacturing step or to become part of the final product - to modify the physical properties of the substance. So even the same kind of plastic can contain very different kinds of other substances depending on who made it when and where.

https://www.npr.org/2011/03/02/134196209/study-most-plastics...

https://www.thoughtco.com/reusing-plastic-bottles-serious-he...


Maybe it depends on the brand. To me Aquafina tastes like I filled a bottle with toilet water & drank it.


I’d wild-ass guess that it’s using a cheaper water treatment? If you don’t want your water going green on the shelves, you need _some_ solution, and I’m guessing a dab of chlorine or similar both achieves that and makes the water taste weird.


Plastic bottled water is not bought because it is higher quality. People buy it because it comes in a disposable container.


In Bali, Indonesia (and many developing countries) you have no choice. Drinking tap water is also health hazard in some countries.


In Bali, Thailand and many other places in SE Asia, you can get water that comes from local treatment plants (it usually looks like this[1]) instead of "brand" bottled water (like these ones[2]), the former is almost always bottled locally (at the nearest water treatment plant, they are ubiquitous in SE Asia even in regional areas, sometimes they are subsidised by governments), as a result the water tends to stay in the bottle for a much shorter time whereas "brand" water is not sourced locally and it travels long distances after being bottled. In addition the employees of the local water treatment plant will often come and take back empty bottles to use them again, so in those cases you have nearly 100% recycling and very little plastic waste.

I don't have any evidence that [1] contains less microplastics than [2] unfortunately, but I think it could be the case.

(I have lived in Indonesia for about one year and part of my family is from Thailand).

[1] http://www.nomad4ever.com/wp-content/uploads/2006/12/bottle_...

[2] https://www.bali.com/media/image/865/plastic-bottles-waste.j...


Surprised you didn’t mention the ubiquitous bring-your-own-container 1 baht water vending machines in Thailand too, which as I understand it are doing ad-hoc filtering:

https://m.alibaba.com/product/137674491/Water-Vending-Machin...


Yes you are right, those are another very good example of locally treated water, my Thai relatives live in a rural area where the “gallon bottles” are more commonplace so I forgot to mention those machines.


The 18.9L/5 gallon water jugs are common even in Canada and US also, it's not unique to Asia. They do get washed and re-used also.

It's an interesting question if they'd be at risk for microplastics as well.


There’s also a system where Nestle gallon containers are filled by small merchants with local filtered bore water and recapped and sold (often as original).


In many places in SE Asia, Nestle "gallon containers" are sold at a premium compared to locally purified water (often 3X - 4X the price), but I would be curious to see side-by-side water analysis results...


If you have money, you can buy a small water filtering unit for the house that gives you drinkable “tap water”. We had one in our fridge in the early 90s in Bangkok.


Depending on what the hazard is, disinfection tablets can be effective and much cheaper than buying water.

Or SODIS sunlight disinfection.


Haven’t tried those tabs for many years but I recall them tasting terrible. Good for emergencies perhaps.

Filtration systems are available but cost several thousand dollars and require core replacements every two years for around $300-400.

On the other hand, a gallon of potable water from one of the few springs in Bali costs around $3.


The NaDCC tablets leave no taste.


Water purification tabs, straws, and bottles are not practical unless you are in an extreme environment to find clean water (hikes, for example).

- They tested awful. Iodine tablets have an awful taste after. We often use orange flavored powder to hide it.

- They are expensive in third world countries. You have to use one tablet per liter, and it costs about 10 cents USD per tablet. In comparison, you can buy a 1L plastic bottle of water for 30 cents.

- it takes about half an hour to work, so you can't use them immediately.

- Even if you buy those straws, they have a maximum lifetime before you have to replace the filter (about 1000l). You will need to replace about twice a year if you were to use as the daily drive.


I couldn’t tell any taste with the NaDCC based chlorinating tablets. They’re not household bleach.

Iodine is old tech, and has other issues.

10cents < 30cents. And don’t underestimate the logistics of transporting bottled water.


This isn't true in my experience. I've witnessed plenty of people in wealthy US suburbs that stock bottled water at home and even stock up on vacation.

They claim it's for the taste and purity.


I don't know about purity but the taste can indeed be better than tap.


My family is from Israel, we recently visited Athens. We have excellent tap water in Israel, and we only drink water at home. No soft drinks and very little juices.

The tap was in Athens was, for us, extremely good tasting. We found ourselves constantly drinking the water, it was actually a treat to drink. We found it far better than either our own tap water, or the bottled water (Ein Gedi) that we bring with us when camping.


It can also be worse. I'd guess for almost everybody the difference in taste is dominated by the placebo effect.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xIJEw5aDzOo


I mean, maybe to you it's a placebo effect, but I know I can at least smell the chlorine in my tap water... which I suppose isn't strictly "taste" but basically the same for the point of the discussion.


A lot of bottled water comes from municipal water plants (aka tap water).

That Penn & Teller YouTube link even has a section showing this, though you only need to go to the supermarket and look closely at the fine print of all the different brands of bottle water. You'll quickly find a lot are tap water.


"Tap" doesn't always have a uniform flavor, even in the same city. It's perfectly possible that bottled tap might taste better than the tap water at your house.


I was just in the US and I couldn't drink the bottled water, basically, due to it tasting terrible. The San Francisco tap water was surprisingly good when filtered, and I did find a brand called "Iceland Spring" or something similar that was good. Evian also has a consistently good taste.


That’s weird, I find Evian awful in every country I go to :)


yes a lot use tap water but they almost all invariable will go through a RO system and ozination and/or uv with some minerals added back in at the end for taste. the RO water with minerals tastes better to me than a natural spring water without that treatment. (used to work in water purification for a spell)


It would be silly to draw global conclusions based on one “test” that was setup for maximum effect on television.

I’ve lived in places with tap water that is definitely noticeable vs filtered/treated water. San Jose water for example is extremely hard and I suspect few people would mistake it for bottled.


That video is just a lot more fun than a traditional study, but here you go:

https://www.wine-economics.org/aawe/wp-content/uploads/2018/...


I guess you haven't lived in Los Angeles?


Guess away.


“Better” taste is subjective.

Many people have become familiar with the flavor of plastic, and learned to associate it with “purity” or “freshness” or “quality” or whatever.


I think this is untrue; there’s plenty of difference in water taste from region to region in countries, without having to suggest it’s the taste of plastic that people react to.

In NYC I always drink bottled water, where I’ll happily drink potable tap water in most places.


Wait, what? NYC has some of the best tap water in the country (barring some old buildings with bad pipes).


Same experience, many people see tap water as being inferior and maybe even dirty, so they go with the bottled water.


> They claim it's for the taste and purity.

Then they aren't very bright.


I know lots of people who buy it because they believe it's higher quality. They don't care about the container.


That would be me and my family over the last decade.

We buy bottled water hoping it would benefit our health over tap water.


The tap water in the vast majority of the US is superior to bottled water.

There are exceptions, though, so if health is your concern, you might want to test both your tap and bottled water.


> The tap water in the vast majority of the US is superior to bottled water.

I'm surprised this myth gets repeated so often on HN. It's not true- the standards for purified bottled water are quite high[0].

[0]https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/bottled-water...


1. The link you provided suggests that some bottled water comes from Municipal sources, ie. it is tap water. This would logically imply that the standards for bottled water are <= the standards for tap water, at least in those locations.

2. The original article you are commenting on suggests that bottled water contains more microplastics than tap water.


> This would logically imply that the standards for bottled water are <= the standards for tap water, at least in those locations.

That’s not how logic works. That there are instances of municipal water supplies whose quality is sufficient to meet bottled water standards doesn’t tell you anything about minimum standards for either municipal supplies or bottled water.

Further: I would expect quality of municipal supplies to vary widely. A city built on the side of a mountain with access to springs can just provide that water, and it’s still from “municipal” supply.


Do you have your sign reversed on that inequality? If the water comes from municipal sources, and the standards are higher for bottled water than tap (clearly stated in the link), then the quality of bottled water can be, at worst, equal to tap water.


Unless impurities are introduced at the bottling plant, or with the plastic bottles.


Municipal water has to get to your house though. How clean it is at the plant doesn't really mean much if you're in an area with bad pipes (and in many places they are).


Counties still have to do testing on the water provided by the distribution network.

Hell, in my county this information is easily available online and in libraries and is broken down by measurements in the processing plant vs measurements in the distribution network. http://www.fultoncountyga.gov/images/stories/WR2/2017/CCR_20...

This won't directly tell you if your pipes are bad (and Atlanta does have some areas that used lead pipes from the county supply to the home) but it's a pretty good indicator of the water quality in my area.

If you're really concerned, it's almost always a better investment to get your tap water tested and fix the pipes than it is to buy bottled.


Have you checked if there's anything wrong with your tap water? One-time water test is probably cheap compared to years of buying bottled.


I hope in that case you buy it in refillable 5g water cooler jugs, rather than small disposable bottles.


Yep, 5 gallon water jugs.


For the majority of the population of South America, it is bought because the tap water is not potable. I imagine that is the case in other continents as well.


Really? On a recent trip to Chile and Argentina I only drank tap water everywhere and had no issues.


Africa, Asia too


I buy 2.5 gallon plastic jugs of water from the store. It tastes much better than the many "fill" services/stations around the city that exist because this cities water tastes absolutely terrible, and that's what they're filtering.


Same, Arrowhead Brand water tastes better than any other local or other water, & my wife wants that water only. I myself couldn't care less about brand.


That's how I buy it, but I've encountered plenty of people who think it's of higher quality and prefer it.


I live in central NJ. I buy bottled water because we notification about the local "city water" having some issue or another. I'd use tap water if it was safe.


When in italy, I buy bottled water because i like natuRally sparkling water, rather than still. I would welcome going back to glass bottles.


Does the plastic come from the bottle, or from the water source?


If it came from the bottle, wouldn't it be in 100% of the samples?


Possibly. I guess it would also depend on the plastic used for the bottles themselves since the article says it was taken from different companies.


Does it matter if the non-water particles aren't plastic? It might, if we evolved while drinking water with the same non-water particles then they should be fine. If the non-water particles only turned up recently, like microplastics, then whether it will affect our health is unknown until some studies are done.


Common particles (those with which we evolved) are easily identifiable so no it's not them. But like I said it clearly shows it's not purer or higher quality than tap water and is sold like that with enormous price compared to tap water. It's called scam.


Actually, detecting hot-water particles does not automatically mean greater polution. Admittedly, I agree with the research authors and you that bottled water is less healthy and a scam, but it is still possible that the particles are non-harmful or could even be beneficial additives.

I very much doubt that's the case, I'm just saying we can't make such direct assumptions when analyzing scientific research.


> bottled water is sold as way purer than tap water

Do you have a source for that? Is it not just the prevalent belief among consumers?


In fairness, that could be what he’s talking about - the illusion among consumers that bottled watered is purer than tap. But with most brands marketing as coming from some mountain spring, who’s really at fault?


There's relatively short list of countries that can even drink tap water.


Flint


The problem I see is labeling something with an assumption whether it’s becausenitnmakes good news or due to bias. If it’s unknown I am not ok with calling it plastic. I would think that the more appropriate term would be “non-water based substance”. Ultimately what we are talking about is contaminants? Or could this be heavy mineral deposits in the water? Do they know? Is this natural or being classified as a real contaminant?


It’s only “unknown” from a scientific skepticism perspective. The scientist is saying, “all the evidence that we can gather points with ubiquity towards this being plastic, but there is some possibility that there is an as yet undiscovered particle that is otherwise elusive to detection.” That just being a good scientist. The mark of a scientist that you should not trust is the one who says, “we know this to be true with absolute certainty” instead of “all of the evidence I’ve gathered leads me to personally believe with absolutely certainty, but there could be something else going on I haven’t considered.”


Short answer: yes, it's definitely mostly plastic.

https://orbmedia.org/sites/default/files/FinalBottledWaterRe...

> In total nearly 2000 microplastic particles > 100 um were extracted from all of the filters, with nearly 1000 (~50%) being further analyzed by FTIR. Obtained FTIR spectra were compared to libraries of known spectra in order to confirm and identify the polymeric content of the particles. All particles analyzed were either best matched to a polymer, plastic additive or known plastic binder providing additional supporting evidence that Nile Red selectively adsorbed to microplastic particles within the bottled water. With this spectroscopic confirmation, it can be concluded that on average each bottle of water contains at least 10.4 MPP/L (Table 2).

[...]

> Given the limitations of the lab, particles < 100 um (the so-called ‘NR tagged particles’) were not able to be confirmed as polymeric through spectroscopic analyses (FTIR &/or Raman spectroscopy). However, in testing of various stains and dyes that could be employed for microplastic detection and analysis within environmental samples with a greater potential for misidentification and false positives (i.e., sediments and open-water environmental samples) both Maes et al. (2107) and Erni-Cassola et al. (2017) concluded that Nile Red (NR) was very selective, especially within the time scales of incubation employed, and could be used for the rapid detection of microplastics without the need for additional spectroscopic analysis. To be sure that is why this stain was employed for this study. Additionally FTIR analysis was done on fluorescing particles >100 um and every particle analyzed was confirmed to be polymeric. Even further, NR is well-established to selectively adsorb to hydrophobic (‘water-fearing’) materials and, as such, will not adsorb to the only contents reasonably expected to be within bottled water, water &/or its mineral components.


Just another personal anekdote:

A friend bought a water destiller because of some health-theories. You are supposed to drink distilled water in the morning and so on... He is usually using it on tap water because he believes the water isn't pure enough (Germany, should be pure enough). One day he figured he could try the bottled water, maybe less build up of chalk in the sistern. This area has a lot of chalk in the ground so everything gets white very fast. He was not totally surpriced with having a black burned, smelly gunk in the bottom the next day. He does not buy bottled water any more :-)


Distilled water, particularly if heated, is dangerous to drink, according to some chemists I know.

The concept is that the ultra-pure water leaches potentially harmful ions from its surroundings, for example chromium from stainless steel fixtures. Better to drink some harmless sodium and chlorine ions.


I think you're referring to deionized water. Deionized (DI) water is water that where all ions are removed. This is not safe to drink.

Distilled water is boiled and recondensed water, which leaves you with pure H2O (no minerals etc). It's safe to drink but pretty bland.


Outside of hydroxide and hydronium, which ions are left with “pure H2O (no minerals etc)”?

And DI water gets hydronium and hydroxide pretty quickly (if they ever go away.) H2O just breaks down into OH- and H3O+ on its own (as far as I know)


I agree: in fact the deionization process adds one hydronium or hydroxide for every (mineral) ion it removes:

>Deionization is a chemical process that uses specially manufactured ion-exchange resins, which exchange hydrogen and hydroxide ions for dissolved minerals

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Purified_water#Deionization

In other words, if deionized water is unhealthful because of a lack of ions, distilled water is, too, because it doesn't contain any more ions than deionized water does.


What's their take on reverse osmosis?


"RODI" (de-ionized reverse osmosis) water can be as pure as distilled water, and is common in labs. I'm told you don't want to drink the lab-grade stuff.


Reverse osmosis devices include mineralization filters, which add salts to nearly-distilled water.


It's good to see someone appreciating them. :)


I didn't TLDR so can someone tell me: is 93% of the planet's fresh water contaminated with plastic? Or is there something about bottling water in plastic that adds plastic to the water?


Went looking to see what the comparison to tap water was:

> Orb found on average there were 10.4 particles of plastic per litre that were 100 microns (0.10 mm) or bigger. This is double the level of microplastics in the tap water tested from more than a dozen countries across five continents, examined in a 2017 study by Orb that looked at similar-sized plastics.

Worse... it's worse than tap water.


Tap water in the developed world is really really good. You can measure a country by the ability of that nation to provide clean water to people. Municipal water supplies in cities like Atlanta and Cincinnati are often tested 200~300 times per month at several pumping and maintenance locations. Bottled water is a scam, and it also is a resources that's often extracted from poor countries and communities.

The documentary Tapped and Blue Gold both go into all the screwed up thing the bottle water industry does. For countries without clean water, bottled water is not the solution. Better municipal water, more wells and cheaper, low energy water purification around those wells is a much more sustainable solution.


>Bottled water is a scam, and it also is a resources that's often extracted from poor countries and communities

Are you sure about this? My impression is that the price/weight ratio of bottled water is way to low to make any sense to not bottle them in close proximity, so "extracted from poor countries" doesn't sound plausible.


The bottled water is produced close to where it's sold. The issue is in countries where the water bottling plant takes up lots of the available local water so the poorer citizens can't access it, and they can't afford the bottled water either. This means they don't have access to any clean water.

One of Nestle's recent CEOs actually went on record to say say he didn't believe access to clean water should be a human right.


> "The bottled water is produced close to where it's sold."

Well, not always. Premium brands are often shipped long distances. Evian, Fiji water, etc...


Voss made a fortune selling Norwegian tap water around the world.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voss_(water)


I used to like their glass bottles, recently I bought again and found they have switched to plastic (at least in some markets) that looks the same and even feels the same until you open it. Fooled me once, shame on them; will never buy again.


If you look carefully at the base of the bottle, the glass version has molding marks (raised dots and ridges) that aren't present the plastic version.


I've seen New York City municipal water sold in supermarkets on the west coast. The brand was something clever like NYC2O.


I wonder if anyone's tried making bagels with it yet.


There was a place in Las Vegas called Glaziers that had New York City water trucked in to make its bagels. They were very good, but very expensive.

It's out of business now.


Can't access what, tap water?

That sounds more like a problem of the local government than factories of bottled water.

>he didn't believe access to clean water should be a human right

Depends on the definition of "human right". You still pay for even the tap water in your home after all.


One might argue that being allowed to dig a well on your land for drinking water is a human right. Clean water was once the natural order of things.


But if the neighbour is called Nestlé and has a deeper well, your well will go dry.

This model shows the problem nicely:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tF4iCgxsZX4


Basically in countries where water supplies are limited Nestle come in and buy the water, meaning wells go dry but Nestle still have enough to sell. Those in water poverty can't outbid Nestle, nor pay the right people bungs.

Snopes does cover the situation quite well (see link upthread).

This sort of thing: https://www.nationofchange.org/2019/08/30/nestle-waters-prop....



He did say that he thinks the idea that bottled water is a human right is “extreme”, and that he doesn’t believe it should be.

Full quote:

> “Water is, of course, the most important raw material we have today in the world. It’s a question of whether we should privatize the normal water supply for the population. And there are two different opinions on the matter. The one opinion, which I think is extreme, is represented by the NGOs, who bang on about declaring water a public right. That means that as a human being you should have a right to water. That’s an extreme solution. The other view says that water is a foodstuff like any other, and like any other foodstuff it should have a market value. Personally, I believe it’s better to give a foodstuff a value so that we’re all aware it has its price, and then that one should take specific measures for the part of the population that has no access to this water, and there are many different possibilities there.”

The Snopes article only disputes that he didn’t specifically say the words “Water is NOT a human right”, but backs up what the GP said (that he doesn’t believe it should be a human right).


>He did say that he thinks the idea that bottled water is a human right is “extreme”, and that he doesn’t believe it should be.

No, he is not saying bottled water. He is saying water plain and simple. Any water.

"That means that as a human being you should have a right to water. That’s an extreme solution."

So, for him, having access to water (any water) is not a human right. If some people can not afford to pay for it, that's their problem, or the government's to find an alternative ("and then that one should take specific measures for the part of the population that has no access to this water").

And to respond to him: Yes, Human Right to water is a thing.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_right_to_water_and_sanit...


Whoops - yeah sorry, the "bottled" in that sentence is a mistake. It was late :)

Fully agree with your comment!


He doesn’t think water should be a human right, he didn’t make a direct quote and the parent didn’t put anything in quotes so I don’t think there’s a problem here. A snopes “mixture” score isn’t something I’d bandy about like it’s an argument killer for sure, lol.


That seems like a distinction without a difference. He basically called people who think water is a human right extremist (from your link).


It shouldn't be a human right. It doesn't make sense. TO say it is a human right would mean if somebody would build a hut in the desert, the world would have to build a water pipeline for them. That would be very ineffective.

I only know about Nestle, there often is the story about them supposedly depleting water in dry regions (I think Afghanistan or Pakistan). But if you look it up, they take the water from a very water rich region in that country.

Next time you read that Nestle story, look it up. I don't have time to Google right now.


> TO say it is a human right would mean if somebody would build a hut in the desert,

You use the most idiotic interpretation you can imagine and then stating it as a fact. I'm sure that you are not doing this in bad faith, but your thinking is missing basic common sense that cripples you ability to understand society. Human right to water and sanitation (HRWS) is very reasonable right. It means that HRWS rules over other concerns in legal disputes and affects policy priorities.

This paper has real world legal cases and interpretations: https://www.un.org/waterforlifedecade/pdf/human_right_to_wat...


The quotation is from a movie that literally shows people living in a desert like environment, implying they should be given water. It's not my idiotic interpretation, it is what the quotation refers to.

They should move somewhere where they can get water. UN may pay for it or whatever. But to show people in some rotten place and complain that they don't get their human right to water makes no sense.

Also, the point of finding "most idiotic interpretations" is to make it obvious if something makes no sense. You are just not used to logical thinking (here, finding trivial counter examples).


Well... it's good in many ways, but on the other hand my local water supply still has Cr(VI)


> that's often extracted from poor countries and communities.

Most bottled water came out of a local tap.


Yep, that's true too. Most bottled water is just municipal tap water.


Unless you are in Flint...


Well, for microplastics.

If you live e.g. in the Bay Area, your tap water instead has a good chance of having a good helping of hexavalent chromium[1], which... not too healthy. (Neither are arsenic, bromium, etc.)

Pick your poison. Literally.

[1] https://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Tap-water-Bay-Area-datab...


Is that what’s responsible for it smelling like swamp water? I always heard that somehow “algae bloom” was to blame, but there were certain days the San Jose tap water would be pungent.


Is this something that would be removed with common cheap consumer filters? (such as Britta)

I drink a lot of tap water, but always put it through a filter of some sort.


If you don't mind a bit of work (weekly rinsing) and discarding part of the water, I'd recommend a reverse osmosis filter. They're reasonably cheap and beat the crap out of all the alternatives for non-professional users. You'll essentially have to add back some salts after the filtration process to turn it into something that won't demineralise you.


Took some poking around to piece together a real answer, but the ion exchange component in a standard Brita filter (or similar pour-through) isn't the right kind to trap chromium (mostly just zinc, copper, and cadmium). You either need a higher-grade ion exchange filter (you can search for "Chromium 6 Water Filter" on Amazon) or a reverse osmosis system.


Thanks. Reverse osmosis removes minerals, which isn't something I want. Personally (this is just my perspective) I operate under the theory we don't fully understand the human body, so don't mess with things too much, removing minerals and then selectively adding some back in is not something I think we are well informed enough to do without possible negative consequences.

I looked for Chromium 6 Water Filter and found plenty of good options. Truly thank you for the recommendation.


I honestly don't know. IIRC, you need an ion exchange filter (but they're bad for other reasons) or a reverse osmosis one certified for Cr(VI).

https://www.ewg.org/tapwater/ has a pretty decent guide.


I think that is overly alarmist. These guys: https://torrentlab.com/drinking-and-storm-water-quality-test... make it easy to get a water test done.

If you're worried about chromium 6 (hexavalent chromium) install a reverse osmosis filter.


> If you live e.g. in the Bay Area, your tap water instead has a good chance of having a good helping of hexavalent chromium

And tastes like crap across the bay. I don't care, but my wife is pretty picky about it. I've tried multiple filters, to no avail.


San Francisco water mostly comes from the Tuolumne River (Hetch Hetchy reservoir).


I don’t think SJC gets if from Hetchhechy nor east bay mud, but I may be misinformed.

Upon searching looks like SJC gets if from aquifers, recharge areas and also a bit from sfpuc (hetchhechy). EB MUD gets it from the Sierra snowmelt.


If you want to actually look up your local results from the source of that article,

https://www.ewg.org/tapwater/


And what exactly can one do if the results are terrible?


Depending on specific circumstance: buy filters, find alternate sources, move.


> find alternate sources

To the water coming out of your tap?


Sure. Bottled water for example. ;-)


In at least a couple of European countries it is well known that unless your city has specific problems tap water is better than bottled water.

The reason being that (except some cases of corruption...) legal limit are much stricter for tap water.

Better in impurities at the very least, the taste is usually quite worse.


Living in Germany/Berlin and can confirm. Our tap water is excellent and is way cleaner than all bottled water you can buy. Keep in mind, bottled water is also kept around way longer and has the time to „breed“. In tests, the tap water is consistently less contaminated. I recommend everyone to just stick to it.

As an anecdote: you can let your tap water be tested for free if you have a newborn to ensure and confirm that you can use it for baby food without doubt.


Having spent 5 months in Germany recently I can say without a doubt the entire food chain in that nation is something I miss. Tap water tasted great and the food was super high quality.


tasted gross in Berlin this summer, spent 2 months there.


There are still flats with lead pipes in Germany.


Berlin, of course, has a website in English language with all the information regarding tap water:

https://www.bwb.de/en/index.php


UK as well has generally excellent tap water and everywhere I’ve lived it had never tasted any different to bottled water.

That said I’ve never been a fan of bottle water anyway, I’ve always preferred what my Nan used to call ‘council pop’ (tap water).


Is Berlin (as opposed to other areas of Germany) culturally ok with drinking tap water?


I'd say all of Germany is culturally very much ok with drinking tap water, Berlin not much more or less than other regions. People who drink bottled water here don't usually do it because they think it's "better" than tap water, it's either because of convenience when you're not home or because they like carbonated water (which is very popular in Germany).


Or because the tap water just doesn't really taste that good. The one coming out of my line just tastes too "metalic", I often tried getting over it but I just can't.


Have you tried a water filter?


A lot of the buildings in Berlin have very old pipes and while the water to the building is alright, we (in Berlin) have to rely mainly on glass bottles of water (bismark) as if you don’t run the taps enough there’s a nice colour that comes out...


I've lived in a few places in Berlin over the years, I've never seen anything but nice clear water come out of the tap (whether at my place or friend's flats). Granted, it's hard water (lots of calcium) but other than that it's perfectly fine. Pipes as bad as you're describing definitely exist but I'd say they're the exception, not the rule.


If there's a lot of calcium old pipes will have nice protection layer, no?


Exactly, and the older the pipe, the thicker the layer.


I was in Berlin this summer for 2 months (Neukolln), in 3 different airbnbs and the water was not tasty, and was quite bitter. Very different compared to Swedish or Austrian or even Italian (florence) water.


I’m no expert in Germany but found it very difficult to get tap water at any restaurants there.


> you can let your tap water be tested for free if you have a newborn to ensure and confirm that you can use it for baby food without doubt.

Without doubt? We just found out that they are microplastics in bottled water, how can you be sure there aren't things in tap water that we haven't discovered yet?


There is microshrimp in NYC water. We love it.


Living in Windsor, Ontario, Canada, I can confirm that our water is extremely clean and good to drink. Additionally our city was rated one of the best tasting tap waters for all of Ontario, cities literally compete for quality water. Contrast that to Flint michigan across the river from me.


Dude not a fair comparison, here in Canada there's probably the best tap water in the world ;)


Unless you live up North or on a reservation...


Iceland was the best i've ever had


Best tasting or least tasting? (Since water is tasteless...)


You should try tasting distilled water and see for yourself if water is tasteless :). The tastelessness makes it pretty hard to drink.

Pure water is tasteless - the one we drink has a bunch of stuff.


> Since water is tasteless...

I think for some people this might seem to be true. That said, for folks who are able to taste such things, clean water from different sources definitely can have tastes that differ based on the minerality of the water.

I used to think this was BS, but I changed my mind after doing a deep dive into wine, in which flavors like minerality of the soil, local flowers, and the like are definitely represented in finer wines.

For an over-the-top water example, check out this video:

https://youtu.be/rg3Mr6e1KMo


In Germany, every supermarket has dozens of different bottled water brands. The vast majority are not fancy and are on the lower end regarding price. You can taste your way through the different mineralisations, from kind of dry tasting over sweet to salty. It's not a surprise the guy introducing Americans to the varieties of water tastes in your link is German.


And not to forget a number of bottled waters are simply tap water. One of the earliest I remember was taking Northern UK tap water, in a region that doesn't flouridate, letting it sit in tanks long enough to dechlorinate, then bottling it. Too long ago to remember the brand.

Dasani and Aquafina are both from the tap. Probably lots of others, but we never buy bottled water of any source.


Bottled water is also usually just tap water .. at a 1000% markup. You're paying for tap water plus some plastic.


While that is the common story, I am not entirely convinced. It is presumably true that there are more controls for tap water. But those controls still only test a limited number of substances.

One story that goes around a lot is for example the claim that tap water contains a lot of hormones from all the contraceptive pills women take and then flush out of their body into the water system. That seems to not be controlled for. Not sure how serious the issue really is.

More controls also doesn't change the quality of water. It only detects bad water of some variants. If you had an excellent "mineral water" and an OK tap water, more controls wouldn't make the tap water any better.

Not saying you shouldn't drink the tap water. I drink it most of the time.


If that's the case, the same would be true for most bottled water. The majority of mainstream brands are made from water from the same distribution system, just filtered some more and with added minerals.


Is there a list? I know that in the US all tap water is (or should be) safe to drink. But anytime I travel, even to developed countries, I only use bottled water since I consider the water to be suspect unless I know differently.


US tap water is far from safe to drink. Ask Flint, Michigan. (Incredible levels of lead in the water).

Pittsburgh (in 2017) didn't even have enough people to run the necessary water audits.

Milwaukee's city health commissioner resigned in 2018 because they didn't warn about unsafe lead levels in the water.

In 2018, around half of the samples from Newark's water system showed lead levels above the EPA's threshold.

Large parts of Texas' water contain elevated amounts of radium[1]. Brady, TX, has water that's green, brown, orange[2] - it changes - and has 9 times the EPA limit of radium

California has a statewide sanitation problem.[3]

And that's just a starter set.

[1] https://www.cbsnews.com/news/drinking-water-radium-contamina... [2] https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2017/08/14/63-million-am... [3] https://www.sacbee.com/news/california/water-and-drought/art...


I guess it's just the places in the US I've lived in that have safe tap water.


Yes, just the vast majority of the US (geographically and population wise) has incredibly good tap water, with a long tail of famously bad exceptions to the rule.


63 million people is a really, really long tail.


How does this compare to the EU? It's one thing for tap water to not be perfect, it's quite another for it to be as bad as Flint, MI. What's the true distribution here?

Making people unreasonably afraid of tap water just seems irresponsible.


Making people affraid of tap water is the business model of bottled water. US tap water is well known to be bad compared to the rest of the developed world (thanks to marketing).


Where did you get 63 million?

The third link from GP has a headline which reads “360,000 Californians have unsafe drinking water. Are you one of them?”

That’s approximately 1% of CA’s population. That’s not even a long tail.


The second link.


> As many as 63 million people — nearly a fifth of the United States — from rural central California to the boroughs of New York City, were exposed to potentially unsafe water more than once during the past decade, according to a News21 investigation of 680,000 water quality and monitoring violations from the Environmental Protection Agency.

So I believe what’s happening here is that they took the total population coverage of any water district that ever had at least two reports of a water quality or monitoring violation in the last decade.

I think ”potentially” is the key word here which makes this claim particularly washy. Are they looking at violations which actually resulted in measurably unsafe water, which were likely to cause or result in unsafe water, or merely violations which could possibly resulted in unsafe water, or perhaps monitoring lapses which would have failed to detect potentially unsafe water, but without any evidence that water was actually ever unsafe?

It’s a newsroom investigative report, not a scientific study. Take this with a huge grain of salt.


Geographically the vast majority of the US doesn't have tap water.


There are several lists online, but essentially tap water is safe (preferable, even) across the whole of Europe and Scandinavia.


> "Worse... it's worse than tap water."

Considering the bottles are made of plastic, it would be surprising if they contained less plastic particles than tap water.

What would be interesting is if glass bottled water contained a similar number of plastic particles, because that would suggest a different source of contamination.


One of the theories is that putting the caps and other mechanic actions cause friction and create the particles.

Many water pipes in houses are plastic. Would be interesting to see studies on tap water.


No, bottled is ro filtered and should be clean of particles over .001 mm.


Yes, and then it gets put in a plastic bottle.

Not all bottled waters are RO filtered, either. Many are sourced from natural springs and retain various minerals.


Do in-line water filters you get at home centers filter those sized particles out, or are they too small?


I wonder if all the articles talking about the prevalence of microplastics, are in actuality demonstrating the safety of microplastics.

If it is in 93% of bottled water, and bottled water is used by millions of people (according to https://www.consumerreports.org/bottled-water/should-we-brea... around 110 Million people in the US avoid drinking tap water), then there has been widespread exposure to microplastics.

It does not seem like there has been huge health consequences due to microplastics, so microplastics are probably pretty safe for humans.


There was a WHO study published just last month[0] which did not find any dangers associated with microplastics in drinking water. One of the conclusions mirrors your reasoning:

"Although it is not possible to draw any firm conclusion on toxicity related to the physical hazard of plastic particles, particularly the nano size particles through drinking-water exposure, no reliable information suggests it is a concern. Humans have ingested microplastics and other particles in the environment for decades with no related indication of adverse health effects."

[0] https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/326499/9789...


What's the control group though. Where do you find a good sample of people not exposed to them.


There is none. Microplastics are in absolutely everything now. They recently found plastic in falling snow.


Sounds like PFAS (a byproduct from teflon production). Researchers struggle to find any humans who don't have it in their bloodstream, even in remote areas. It causes birth defects.

Fun Fact: the "compostable" paper bowls offered by many fast casual restaurants like Chipotle contain this chemical, and will leech into the soil if you try to compost them.

"The Devil We Know" is a pretty unnerving documentary on this subject.


"From 1973 to 2011, there was a decline of more than 50 percent in sperm counts among men living in North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand."

"The researchers said that they cannot determine from their data what might have caused the decline, but it could be related to environmental or lifestyle factors."

https://www.livescience.com/59948-sperm-count-drop-western-m...


A link has been found to some household chemicals (diethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP) and polychlorinated biphenyl 153 (PCB153)) affecting dogs:

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/fertility-problems...


The world is full of chemicals right now. One day, humanity will look back at the last 100 years (and probably the next 50) and wonder what we were thinking.


Maybe, but I would have preferred to live in the last 100 years, than at any other time in the past.

Despite all those chemicals, we have had longer life expectancies, better quality of life, and less suffering.


The world is made up of ONLY chemicals, now and forever


That's just pedantic. It is implied that the issue is 'synthetic chemicals'


That is still an overly broad category to be worried about in general... just because something is synthetic doesn't mean it is more or less dangerous than a non-synthetic thing.


Non-naturally occurring chemicals, or at least chemicals that we weren't traditionally exposed to in great abundance. Like laundry detergent and conventional shampoo. Those are probably terrible for the environment. When we ban one, companies just create another one.


It's not really pedantic because toxicity is in the dosage


Toxicity is one measure. What about endocrine disruption? What ability long-term effects like cancer? And that's just for humans. We don't know how some of these compounds that end up in our waterways are affecting marine line.


Easily correlated to other factors such as the surge in obesity and diabetes since the 1970s.


There’s a lot of logical leaps your making hear. It might not be immediately deadly, but it could have lots of long term subtle effects. For example, it may contribute to cancer rates or obesity. Some people suspect it contributes to low sperm counts among men. All of these would be consistent with the current widespread consumption patterns.


>long term subtle effects

The longer term, and subtler the effect is, the safer a substance is. My educated guess is that microplastics are going to cause a lot fewer human deaths and ingury than any of the following natural stuff:

Bees, coffee (see acrylamide), peanuts, mosquitoes, arsenic, mushrooms, and bodies of water.


Humans aren't the only thing that will be directly affected though. Microplastics are effectively forever and are already in aquifers and falling from the sky like rain/snow.

That means all life is going to become more and more exposed to microplastics as more and more breaks down. Sure, maybe it'll be not be so bad for a random human but what happens when this stuff starts getting into single cell and small organisms where it is in far greater concentrations?

What happens when phytoplankton, or zooplankton start getting a lot in them and it negatively impacts them? Do you get a collapse of an ecosystem?

What happens when pollinators like bees start getting large concentrations in them?

What happens as it accumulates in soil to the hundreds-to-thousands of species that are found in the first couple of inches of an average square meter of soil?

And here's the real problem... the plastic is already out there, it will break down into smaller and smaller pieces and if we entirely outlawed plastic today and no more was ever made in human history, the number of microplastic pieces would continue to grow for quite a long time before leveling off and then would appear to start vanishing as the pieces just got small enough to avoid detection via affordable methods.


Several groups are working on engineering fungi to digest plastics, seems like a great idea to me.


Yeah but that has its own issues. Instead of worrying about your steel car rusting, now you'll have to worry about washing it regularly to keep whatever they make from landing on your car/siding/computer monitor/clothes/carpet/curtains/blinds/window molding/etc from being weakened.


That is a good point, and I agree and would add cars, hammers, sodas, and bread mold. But acrylamide studies are all based on rat models to date. Human studies have not shown the same impact. We have been cooking food a long time and it would not surprise me if we have stumbled on and kept a mutation that makes it safe.


What's wrong with hammers?


Nothing, buts what's wrong with your thumb? /s


Well consider the median American, or the bottom 20th percentile in health American. They are likely to be overweight and maybe have diabetes. I’m not saying those are caused by microplastics, but it could be. There’s no cohort of people we can compare that isn’t exposed to microplastics.


What's dangerous about peanuts and store-bought mushrooms?


Peanut allergies. And I imagine mushrooms weren't qualified as "store-bought" because there are plenty of lethal wild mushrooms.


Maybe, but all sorts of things could have long term effects. Even without plastic, the environment is full of toxic or non-digestible things, like dust, or pollen. Many organisms don't want to be eaten and shed particles that evolve to be non-digestible.

If you worry too much about what MAY be dangerous, you couldn't leave the bed anymore. Remaining in bed is definitely dangerous. Not drinking water is also definitely dangerous.


Microplastics can accumulate in human organs, especially the kidneys and the liver. It could take some time for microplastic accumulation in internal organs to cause serious health issues. I don't know about you, but I'm not comfortable being a guinea pig for huge corporations and then wake up one day with the bill due.

Not like similar debacles haven't happened in the past: Tobacco, asbestos, lead, VOCs, the list goes on and on.

We're all a part of gigantic experiment the consequences of which we won't find out for some time.


Lots of people smoke cigarettes, and only incur negative health consequences 20+ years down the line. That doesn't mean that cigarettes are probably pretty safe for humans.


Regular smokers incur negative health consequences very quickly. Their fitness goes down, coughing, loss of sense of smell/taste, etc.


Sure, but in addition, the really serious consequences start only 30 years later. Say we have only subtle or no immediate reaction to plastics, but in 30 years an additional third of us gets cancer.


Yes.

Unfortunately, there is no good research yet [1]. As you say, it is quite possible that there is essential zero effect.

There are some indicators that concentrated nanoplastics (smaller particles) are harmful. [2]

[1] https://www.upi.com/Health_News/2019/08/22/WHO-More-data-nee...

[2] https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/09/170925104730.h...


> It does not seem like there has been huge health consequences due to microplastics, so microplastics are probably pretty safe for humans.

How are you deciding that there hasn't been huge health consequences?


I didn't think the problem was it was necessarily harmful to us, but other aspects of the larger ecosystem.

These articles are providing easily-digestible imagery for how wide-spread microplastics are on the planet.


Where's your control group? If life expectancy would have been a year higher, how exactly would you know?


Indigenous peoples who are less connected to the global economy tend to have 4x+ the gut microbial diversity. Would be interesting to study the link between microplastics and the microbiome.


I don't think they have higher life expectancies, however.


Was there some sort of scientific breakthrough that has allowed researchers to find these microplastics for the first time, or is it just that nobody had looked yet?


"A rapid-screening approach to detect and quantify microplastics based on fluorescent tagging with Nile Red"

https://www.nature.com/articles/srep44501


I was wondering the same thing. I saw an article yesterday about scientists just discovering that tea bags release billions of micro and nano particles.


the tea bags are a new plastic mesh kind, currently from a small handful of manufacturers.


The PET and nylon tea bags tend to be pyramid shaped.

From the BBC >This is usually so that the tea bag is held in a pyramid shape, which producers claim helps the tea leaves infuse better.


Wasn't it pretty much every large tea manufacturer in the UK though? I definitely got the impression that it's very widespread.


I got the sense it was the nylon bagged tea that had the issue, and they are comparatively rare in the UK. Yet many paper tea bags have tiny amounts of plastic based glue. No idea if that's enough to be feeding us microplastics, or relative quantity to plastic ones.

It's one of those things that having found surprising amounts somewhere, we're going to spend the coming years finding surprising amounts everywhere.

Bit like the chap who ended up finding lead from petrol everywhere on every researcher and clean surface in his lab, invented the clean room, and started finding it up mountains etc.


You mean like any kind of hot tea in pyramid bags that you get from Starbucks?

I wonder how much people are drinking those teas.

know I have


See also:

* Microplastics found in 93% of bottled water tested in global study

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16793888

* Microplastics found in 90 percent of table salt

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18248471

* Microplastics Are Blowing in the Wind

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19672514

* Microplastics found in supermarket fish, shellfish

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14245133

I think people around the world have been ingesting microplastic for 30 years or longer, yet there's no reported case of any direct toxic effects. So I guess microplastic doesn't have immediately effects on health, but I won't be surprised if future studies find longterm effects, such as increasing the risk of cancer, damage to the circulatory system or the brain.

Overall, I think we must take actions immediately for solutions, but I won't particularly worry about this problem and I'll continue buying bottled water. It's not unlike the air pollution in the 20th century, one has to live with it.

Nevertheless, "microplastic is going to kill all of us" surely is going to be the trope of the next decade.


It's possible the microplastics could be to blame for the decline in male fertility.


Well, the problem would solve itself. And that's not actually a joke. A book from a very popular author (no name because spoiler) creates a world where this is a reality. The movie changed the ending and thereby the whole book (I'm still pissed), but the book has this, and having a third of the world population be infertile for a generation might help us quite a bit. When the deed is already done by a mad scientist, the leading people in the book are wondering whether they should actually want to revert it. (You probably won't recognize the book until you're near or at the end, so I don't think this should spoil it for anyone.) I'm not sure if in the real world it would work as well as it did in the story, but hypothetically, it's interesting to talk about. Killing people, we won't support. But what about restricting kids? It creates a livable world for the kids that we do bring into the world. We'll still have a huge climate issue, but it'll greatly increase our chances of managing it. (This is one of the reasons I'm not getting kids.)


> A book from a very popular author (no name because spoiler)

The author's name is a spoiler? Are you talking about P. D. James' The Children of Men?


> The author's name is a spoiler?

Yeah because it would spoil the book. By mentioning the book nor the author, you don't realize that you know the spoiler until you've already read 90% of the book.

In case someone does want to know, in rot13: vasreab ol qna oebja


How would you buy or borrow this book without knowing the name?

Ed: having rot13 that, I still don't see how it's a spoiler...


You wouldn't be able to get the book, that wasn't the point of the comment. I'd have liked to be able to recommend the book, but then we can't talk about its conclusion, and the book also isn't that much in depth (it's mostly entertainment). If I wanted to mention the author or title, I'd have to put the situation description behind some kind of spoiler protection and only those who want to be spoiled or read it already would be able to take part in the discussion.

I don't understand what's unclear about spoilers: what I described (a part of the world population infertile) is only revealed in the final like 10 pages of the book.

Perhaps I shouldn't have mentioned that there is a book at all, since it isn't super in depth anyway. But I also don't want to pass it off as an idea of my own.


There are some preliminary findings that specific types of plastics, when ingested, reduce fertility in both humans and dogs:

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-019-39913-9


They need to test blood and urine.


Assuming there’s a lack of toxic effects because a human has not yet named any is fallacious. Safety is inherently impossible to demonstrate with certainty.


But they never said that microplastic had "no" toxic effects, just no immediately visible ones.


Just curious, what does “immediately visible” mean?


> I think people around the world have been ingesting microplastic for 30 years or longer, yet there's no reported case of any direct toxic effects. So I guess microplastic doesn't have immediately effects on health

In this case, 30 years? Or, taken in another light, it doesn't have effects that are visible on the time-scale of known substances such as lead, arsenic, mercury, etc.

In addition, the parent also stated this:

> I won't be surprised if future studies find longterm effects, such as increasing the risk of cancer, damage to the circulatory system or the brain.


Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: