WHO: Microplastics in Drinking Water Not a Health Risk

Microplastics are 'ubiquitous in the environment' and have been found in both bottled and tap water

THURSDAY, Aug. 22, 2019 (HealthDay News) -- Levels of microplastics in drinking water do not appear to be a health risk, according to the World Health Organization. However, the U.N. health agency also noted that more research is needed into how microplastics may impact human health and the environment, the Associated Press reported.

Microplastics -- tiny particles smaller than about one-fifth of an inch -- are "ubiquitous in the environment" and have been found in drinking water, including tap and bottled water, the WHO said in the report released Wednesday.

"But just because we're ingesting them doesn't mean we have a risk to human health," said Bruce Gordon, the WHO coordinator of water, sanitation and hygiene, the AP reported. "The main conclusion is, I think, if you are a consumer drinking bottled water or tap water, you shouldn't necessarily be concerned." However, Gordon noted that available data on microplastics are "weak" and said more research is needed. He also called for increased efforts to reduce plastic pollution.

Microplastics in water do not appear to be a health threat at the moment, but "I wouldn't want people to go away with the idea that microplastics are no longer important," Andrew Mayes, a senior lecturer in chemistry at Britain's University of East Anglia who was not involved in the WHO report, told the AP. Microplastics might be damaging the environment and stronger measures to reduce plastic waste are needed, he added. "We know that these types of materials cause stress to small organisms," Mayes said. "They could be doing a lot of damage in unseen ways."

AP News Article

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