According to certain studies, 94% of tap water around the country and 93% of bottled water contains microplastics. These numbers may or may not be shocking for us to learn, but considering how common plastics are in our lives and the environment at large, the reality is that it shouldn’t be surprising. We might even be shocked the numbers aren’t higher since just in 2015, we produced 407 million tons of plastic. As a result, some studies estimate that we ingest roughly a credit card’s worth of plastic every week through foods, the air, and the water we drink.
So what are microplastics in water, and should we be concerned? We’ll look at the answer to these questions, and provide additional resources to help you understand the issue of microplastics in water.
What Are Microplastics?
In general, when people discuss microplastics they’re referring to the tiny pieces of plastic that have become widespread as a result of plastic pollution. Because of the way plastic is made, it doesn’t biodegrade (or breakdown naturally in the environment), instead it simply breaks apart into increasingly smaller and smaller pieces. These pieces can eventually be less than 5mm in length (micro) and they can find their way found in consumer products (sometimes intentionally), foods, and even the air and water.
Are Microplastics in Water Dangerous?
Because these are relatively new to our environment, the studies about the impact of consumed microplastics remain on-going. This is where much of the debate comes from because some studies claim the impact for humans consuming them is minimal, while other studies show that there could be an increased risk for health complications of varying degrees depending on the amount and type of microplastics consumed.
For example, larger microplastics consumed could potentially damage internal organs, while smaller microplastics might have more limited structural impact, but could damage our bodies in other ways. As more and more attention is paid to this issue, it’s expected that we’ll learn more about the impact of microplastics in our bodies, and the environment.
How Do Microplastics Enter A Water Source
There are just about as many ways for plastic to enter the water supply as there are types of plastics — from plastic bags to single-use water bottles, and food packaging to cosmetics, any type of plastic that ends up as pollution has the potential to become a microplastic.
In addition to improperly disposed plastic products, microplastics can enter the water supply through you and I, and the products we use everyday. Many toothpastes and types of personal care products contain microplastics, which we then introduce to the water supply when we brush our teeth and shower.
Are there to Microplastics In My Water?
The short answer is most likely yes. Studies show that 94% of the drinking water samples collected in the United States contained microplastics.
The best way to tell for sure if you have microplastics in your water however is with a water test. Since these contaminants are so small, they are invisible to the naked eye. A home water test kit may be able to detect the presence of microplastics, but make sure you check the label to find one that specifically mentions it tests for microplastic. You can also schedule a complimentary water test from Culligan to determine what contaminants may be in your water, from microplastics and more — and how you can treat them.
How to Filter Microplastics From Your Water
If there is any good news the microplastics story, it’s that we can remove them somewhat effectively from water. While more studies are required to fully understand the interaction of microplastics in the water supply, reverse osmosis and carbon-based water filters can remove most microplastic contamination.
Products like our Aqua-Cleer@ and Aquasential line of reverse osmosis filters can reduce your exposure to microplastics, either at the kitchen sink or throughout your entire home.
As with so many other things that concern our health and well being, the best defense is usually a good offense. Being proactive about your water quality at home can go a long way to ensuring our health and protection from microplastics. If you have more questions about filtering microplastics from water, contact your local Culligan Man for more information.
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