Plastic pollution has, no doubt, become a pressing environmental issue in today’s world. The presence of plastic in our water has overwhelmed our oceans and waterways, affecting marine life and, now – us.
What are microplastics, and where do they come from?
Microplastics are precisely that; micro, referring to tiny, pieces of plastic. They are found in all types of water, including bottled and come from a variety of situations and circumstances, including pollution. These little pieces of debris are formed from larger pieces of plastic and are broken down by natural causes such as sea, wind and wave action.
How do microplastics get into our drinking water?
As plastic is the most common type of debris found in oceans all around the world, it is hard to avoid it in our water – both bottled water and tap water.
In simple terms, plastics enter our drinking water through pollution and litter. At most times, microplastic particles are not entirely removed from drinking water, despite being filtered and cleaned by Australian authorities. Many of these particles are also less dense than water which means they can float and avoid the removal process.
Both bottled water and tap water are no exception to microplastics. Because of this, there are many reasons to be concerned about filtering your water as best as possible.
The presence of microplastics has become concerning for many Australians, especially in regards to the overall impact that our drinking water may have on our health. The question posed is whether or not microplastics are harmful to our health and if so, to what degree?
According to the World Health Organisation, the potential hazards of microplastics include:
- Physical particles: actual pieces of plastic (tiny in scale, of course)
- Chemicals: pollutants which come from microplastics
- Microbial pathogens: microorganisms which may carry infection and/or disease
Although there is little evidence which suggests that these hazards are harmful to the human body, there is no evidence that indicates that they are not. It is safe to say, more research is required.
But what can be said is that as it turns out, there are numerous microplastics present in our tap and bottled water, and we are drinking them up.
What are the hazards associated with microplastics in my water?
There is no doubt that artificial substances have been entering our bodies since the day we were born. From artificial food colours to BPA and more, these substances no doubt affect our health – after all, they are foreigners to the human body. Microplastics are no exception.
Microplastics are considered as toxins as they are non-absorbent, don’t dissolve, repel water and quickly enter the body while drinking. Further to this, microplastics consist of chemicals and pollutants. The size, shape, area and characteristics of these chemicals and pollutants can determine their overall effect on the human body once consumed; some of which can cause cancer. An example of this is dioxins; a group of toxic chemicals that can cause problems with reproduction, development and immunity, and also lead to cancer. Microparticles can easily stick to these chemicals, allowing them to enter the body and be accumulated by fatty tissues.
The most common microplastics found in water include:
Despite the presence of these in our water, there is not enough high-quality data that can help us better understand the potential danger of being exposed and susceptible to these risks.
“The health risk from microplastics in drinking-water is a function of both hazard (potential to cause adverse effects) and exposure (dose). The same substance can have different effects at different doses, which depends on how much of the substance a person is exposed to and may also depend on the route by which the exposure occurs…”
Can I filter and remove microplastics from tap water? If so, how?
As mentioned, the main factor here is particle size. The smaller the pore size of your filter, the broader range of microplastics can be stopped. Vitasmart recommends the Ultra family of filters, which use fibres as low as 0.1 microns in size to assist in protecting you and your family from the presence of microplastics in your water at home.
Thankfully, there is a solution to combat the presence of microplastics in our water. Vitasmart offers a variety of water filters which can assist in the removal of microplastics in your water.
To view our range of Ultra Filters, click here.