People may be ingesting between 3,000 and 4,000 microparticles of plastic from tap water every year, said a study on Wednesday based on samples from 14 countries.
While the health risks are unknown, the researchers pointed to previous findings that plastic particles can absorb, and release, potentially harmful chemicals and bacteria.
For the survey, 159 tap water samples were analysed of which “83 per cent were found to contain plastic particles,” researchers from the University of Minnesota and the State University of New York wrote in a report entitled: “Invisibles: The plastic inside us”.
While much research has focused on plastic pollution of lakes, rivers, the ocean, beaches, even the air we breathe, less attention has been paid to its presence in human consumables, said the team.
This was the first study to look at micro-plastics in drinking water, they added.
Samples were collected in the first three months of the year in Kampala, Uganda; New Delhi, India; Jakarta, Indonesia; Beirut, Lebanon; Quito, Ecuador; several cities in the United States and in seven European countries.
All were sent to the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, for lab testing.