Virtually all the world’s tap water is contaminated by microscopic plastic fibers, a new study claims, raising fresh concerns about the implications of rampant plastic pollution on human and planetary health.
Some 83% of tap water samples collected from over a dozen countries on five continents tested positive for microplastic, according to a study commissioned by data journalism outlet Orb. The specific rate of prevalence in different locales varied, but all tested locations — from Europe to Jakarta and Beirut — saw plastic found in over 70% of tap water samples.
In the U.S., researchers found that 94% of all water samples — including tap water from places like Trump Tower and the Environmental Protection Agency’s headquarters — were contaminated by plastic.
These microscopic fragments enter the water system in multiple ways, reports Orb, from synthetic fiber clothing to tire dust and microbeads, as well as the fragmenting of larger pieces of plastic, which for the most part is non-biodegradable.
Attention has previously focused on plastic pollution’s effect on marine life, seabirds and the human food chain, but effects of microplastic’s presence in the human body remain to be studied.
“There are certain commons that connect us all to each other, air, water, soil, and what we have universally found time and time again is if you contaminate any of those commons, it gets in everything,” Sherri Mason, an expert on plastic pollution at the State University of New York in Freedonia, told Orb.
- Workers Are Furious. Their Unions Are Scrambling to Catch Up
- What the Facebook Whistleblower Did to the Company's Stock in 6 Weeks
- Photos from Migrants' Desperate Journeys to the U.S. Border
- Emily Ratajkowski: How I Learned to Let Go
- Afghanistan's Female Students Were Banned from Studying. Now Some Are Finding New Ways to Learn
- The 'Safe Supply' Movement Aims to Curb Drug Deaths Linked to the Opioid Crisis
- The 19 Most Underrated Movies on Netflix
- By Ending Legacy Admissions, Amherst Hopes to Change the Makeup of Its Student Body