Tap water around the world has plastic pollutants, says study

But the United States accounted for an above-average share of the polluted water: 94% of the U.S. samples were contaminated. Even relatively affluent U.S. sites were not immune.
By Kyle Bates | Sep 08, 2017
Contaminated drinking water is not just a developing nations' problem, concludes an analysis of tap water samples from around the globe. The analysis, an investigation by Orb Media, found significant amounts of plastic particle pollutants in drinking water from the United States and more than a dozen other nations, including several nations of western Europe.
The researchers found plastic fibers floating in 83% of the water samples. Many of these particles may have come from the air, which picked them up from carpets and clothes, according to the researchers. They said that water flushed from washing machines accounts for much particle pollution, also.
But the United States accounted for an above-average share of the polluted water: 94% of the U.S. samples were contaminated. Even relatively affluent U.S. sites were not immune. The researchers reported plastic fiber contaminants in samples from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's headquarters, several Congressional buildings, and Trump Tower in New York.
The U.S. contamination rate was worse than that of India or Lebanon. The lowest rates were in western Europe, where the average contamination was 72% for samples from the United Kingdom, France, and Germany.
Plastic fiber concentration ranged from 4.8 per 500 milliliters of water in the United States to 1.9 in Europe. The researchers warned that these particles frequently harbor dangerous pathogens and toxic chemicals and release both into our bodies when we consume them.
"We are increasingly smothering ecosystems in plastic and I am very worried that there may be all kinds of unintended, adverse consequences that we will only find out about once it is too late," said Prof Roland Geyer, from the University of California and Santa Barbara, who led the study.

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