PLASTIC IN WATER
Microplastics have arrived at the tap
PLASTIC WASTE IS A SERIOUS PROBLEM OF OUR TIME
Plastic waste is a serious problem of our time. Mountains of waste are accumulating on our planet. The exposure to often unnoticed microplastics in drinking water as well as in rivers, lakes and seas is treacherous.
Microplastics are plastic particles less than five millimeters in size. These are very often the smallest particles that are present in our food and drinking water. These impurities are not visible to the naked eye. Through the food chain they enter the body of animals and humans and lead to long-term poisoning.
In addition to solid microplastic particles, soluble plastics from cosmetic products are also a major problem. These synthetic polymers can swell or are even water soluble. They serve as lubricants, binders or abrasives as well as film forming agents. They get into groundwater via our sewage. They then enter the water cycle and the sea through rivers. Leading environmental organisations are working to ban synthetic polymers as they are so difficult to remove.
MICROPLASTICS IN WATER - A GLOBAL THREAT
Microplastics in water are not the only direct health hazard. Global pollution of our oceans with fine particles is growing into an uncontrollable risk to our climate and our environment.
A direct danger is the poisoning of marine animals in what they eat. Plastic attracts a number of environmental toxins that increase the toxicity of water particles. Since plastic is lighter than water, it first forms a film on the surface. Vital sun rays can no longer reach the deeper ocean layers. As a result, coral reefs and their inhabitants may die. The plastic film also reflects sunlight into the atmosphere and thus contributes to the greenhouse effect on Earth. As decomposition progresses over time, the plastic then slowly sinks to the ocean floor and then pollutes the deeper layers.
Decay time of plastic products | Source: Federal Environment Agency
HOW MUCH MICROPLASTIC IS IN OUR DRINKING WATER?
In a global study, Orb Media has addressed the topic of microplastics in drinking water. In 2017, 159 drinking water samples were taken worldwide and tested for plastic residues. At least two particles of microplastics were found in 62 percent of the samples. The average value was 4.3 particles per litre. The study concludes that 83 percent of the world's drinking water is contaminated with microplastics.
In addition, the Orb Media researchers also investigated the quality of drinking water in bottling. They examined products from eleven manufacturers from 17 locations and eight different countries. Microplastics were detected in 93 percent of the bottled water.
WHAT TRIGGERS MICROPLASTICS IN DRINKING WATER IN OUR BODIES?
Worldwide, toxicologists are looking for the answer to what microplastics are doing in our bodies. The Federal Institute for Risk Assessment is also currently carrying out appropriate tests. However, research is still at an early stage, and it will probably take a few years before the extent of the threat can be fully identified.
It is assumed that the microplastic from drinking water is deposited in body tissue and causes inflammatory reactions. However, it is still unclear how much microplastics in drinking water actually make it into the human bloodstream.
In a recent study by the University of Vienna, researchers were able to detect microplastics in the human body's bowel for the first time. BpA (bisphenol A) has already been detected in the blood of test subjects in previous studies.
HOW CAN I CLEAN MY DRINKING WATER FROM MICROPLASTICS?
In order to remove particulate microplastics from drinking water, very thorough filtration using membrane processes is required.