Plastic Water Bottles: Harmful to the Environment and Possibly Your Health

Public consumption of plastic water bottles has continued to rise over the years, amounting to about 20,000 bottles being bought every second. It is estimated that annual consumption of water bottles will top half a trillion by 2021.

The rise in plastic water bottle use has been under scrutiny for many years now, drawing attention to the fact that unchecked use is effecting the environment at an alarming rate. For instance, by 2050 scientists estimate that the ocean will contain more plastic by weight than fish.

However, new research has found that plastics are not only penetrating the oceans and environment, but also our bodies. People who eat seafood are estimated to ingest up to 11,000 tiny pieces of plastic, or microplastics, each year.

Microplastics are small plastic pieces less than 5 millimeters long that come from a variety of sources such as larger plastic pieces, resin pellets, or microbeads and end up in oceans or consumed by wildlife.

And as recently as this year, scientists have begun to discover the alarming amounts of microplastics that may be present in a majority of plastic water bottles being consumed.

MIcroplastics in Water Bottles

New research analysing 11 different brands across nine different countries and 250 specimens showed that microplastics are present in nearly all consumer plastic water bottles. Major brands include Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and Nestle.

The research, conducted by Orb Media, used Nile red dye to identify an average of 10 plastic particles per litre in 93% of the water bottles they tested.

The ingestion of microplastics has not yet been found harmful to human health, but the findings from this study has prompted further consideration by the World Health Organization (WHO). WHO has begun to review the potential health risks of plastic in drinking water in order to gain insight into evidence gaps and set a research agenda for risk assessment.

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What You Can Do

Plastic waste is extremely harmful to the environment and penetrates every aspect of it, including the land, oceans, marine life, and our own bodies. One of the best ways to curb this waste and the possibility of consumption is by reducing your use of disposable plastic bottles.

There are a multitude of reusable plastic water bottles and plastic alternatives to choose from. Educate yourself and others on the opportunities to purchase reliable alternatives to disposable plastic, reducing our environmental impact one decision at a time.

About The Author

David Evans is the founder of prch, a resource for eco-minded consumers. He is a minimalist, environmentalist, and conscious consumer with a background in environmental studies, conservation, and tech. Learn to improve your environmental and social impact @theprch.

Anna Jane Linke