On July 21, 2022, the French association Agir pour l’Environnement published a report of their study in which they analyzed microplastics in bottled waters sold in France. The association contracted the Labocéa laboratory to perform the analysis. They found microplastics in seven out of the nine waters tested, including in waters from Badoit, Carrefour, Cristaline, Evian, Perrier, Vittel, and Volvic. Concentrations ranged between 1 and 121 particles < 5 mm per liter. Importantly, the highest quantity of particles was present in the “Vittel Kids,” meaning water intended for children. Assuming an average consumption of 131 liters of bottled water, sums up to a consumption of 16,000 microplastics per year alone with drinking water.
Agir pour l’Environnement commented that “it is unacceptable to let the bottled water industry sell water polluted with microplastics, but presented as supposedly ‘pure’ and moreover 300-times more expensive than tap water! The government must protect our health and the environment, in priority that of the children, by making sure that the food chain is not polluted with microplastics. We must get out of disposable plastic as soon as possible, starting with the banning of plastic bottles.”
In an article published on July 18, 2022, in the journal Environmental Pollution, V.C. Shruti from Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), Mexico, analyzed free drinking water from Mexican outdoor refill kiosks for the presence of microplastics.
The researchers sampled drinking water from 22 refill kiosks located in neighborhood parks in nine municipalities of Mexico city and identified plastic particles using epifluorescence microscopy and polymer composition using attenuated total reflection-fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy (ATR-FTIR). All samples contained microplastics but quantities differed between 23 and 202 microplastics per liter between sample sites. Most of the plastics were fibers (88%) while 9% were fragments, and 3% were films. 56% of the fibers had a length shorter 200 µm and the majority were transparent. Shruti et al. further reported that microplastics were made of nine polymer types with polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) being the most predominant type.
The authors hypothesized that microplastics originated from “microplastic-polluted water supplies, a lack of water treatment options, and plastic equipment abrasion during water treatment and distribution.” They recommend monitoring the water quality and maintaining water purification systems regularly.
Agir pour l’Environnement (July 20, 2022). “Étude exclusive: 78% des eaux en bouteille analysées contaminées par des microplastiques.”
Shruti, V. C. et al. (2022). “Free, but not microplastic-free, drinking water from outdoor refill kiosks: A challenge and a wake-up call for urban management.” Environmental Pollution. DOI: 10.1016/j.envpol.2022.119800
This article was originally published by Lisa Zimmermann at the Food Packaging Forum.