What are Microplastics?
Microplastics are very small pieces of plastic that pollute the environment. Microplastics are not a specific kind of plastic, but rather any type of plastic fragment that is less than 5mm in length according to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). They enter natural ecosystems from a variety of sources, including cosmetics, clothing, and industrial processes.
A new study has found that the global average of microplastic ingestion could be as high as five grams a week per person, which is the equivalent of eating a teaspoon of plastic — or a credit card every week.
Drinking water: the main source of microplastics
University of Newcastle researcher Thava Palanisami said both bottled and tap water was the largest single source of plastic ingestion.
Microplastics in our drinking water
We’re all very aware of the number of plastics polluting our oceans and waterways and killing marine life, and now several scientific papers highlights that we are also consuming waste plastic in our tap water.
From our research microplastic is most likely to be a tiny thread of plastic anywhere in size from 1mm down to 6 microns (for your reference the smallest particle visible to the human eye is 40 microns and a cross-section of human hair is 50 microns).
While the health impact of ingesting of these plastics is still to be explored, you would definitely want them removed from your drinking water.
Microplastics in bottled water
Bottled water sampled from manufacturers around the world is teeming with microplastics according to a new report.
Tests of 250 bottles from 11 bottled water brands revealed microplastics in 93 percent of the samples, with an average of 325 particles per 1 litre of water.
These findings, discovered by scientists at the State University of New York in Fredonia, sound alarming. However, the report was not submitted for publication in a scientific journal, a process that involves an extensive review of a study’s methods and findings by scientists who were not involved in the research. Rather, the investigation was launched and then released by Orb Media (OM), a nonprofit that uses journalism and data science to investigate global environmental issues, according to the company’s website. [Why Doesn’t Plastic Biodegrade?]
The consequences of these findings for human health are “unknown,” OM representatives said in a statement.
Microplastics measure under 0.2 inches (5 millimetres) in length — about the size of a sesame seed or smaller — and they originate from many sources, such as microbeads that are commonly found in health and beauty products, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Humans have produced an estimated 9 billion tons of plastic, Live Science previously reported. Plastic is the most common form of rubbish found in the world’s oceans, and microplastics are so small that they can evade methods for collecting or filtering plastic trash; studies have shown that microplastics are present in nearly every environment on Earth and can be found in the guts of many types of sea birds and marine life, according to NOAA.
And according to the new report, microplastics are also widely distributed in bottled drinking water. Regardless of whether the findings are verified by scientists unaffiliated with the study, the health risks of microplastics are far from known and depend on the quantities that are ingested and how long the minuscule particles linger in a person’s gut, experts say.
Microplastics in Toothpaste and Makeup
Microbeads are tiny pieces of polyethylene plastic added to health and beauty products, such as some cleansers and toothpaste.
Two classifications of microplastics.
Primary microplastics are any plastic fragments that are already 5mm or less in size before they enter the environment. e.g. microfibers from clothing, micro-beads, and plastic pellets (sometimes known as nurdles).
Secondary microplastics are microplastics that are created from the degradation of larger plastic products into the environment through natural weathering processes. Sources like bottled water, soda bottles, fishing nets, and plastic bags.
Both types exist in high levels in the environment, particularly in aquatic and marine ecosystems.
How to filter microplastics
The UltraStream water filtration system has a 1-micron filter pad at the water inlet point and will effectively capture the smallest of these microplastic particles.
In addition there are 6 more 1-micron pads between the 7 media layers, ensuring microplastics won’t block the media or in your drinking water.