Where does the plastic in bottled water come from?


City of Fredonia. State University of New York Research Center. 

A dozen plastic bottles with labels of famous brands of drinking water are brought to the laboratory. The containers are placed in a protected area, and specialists in white coats carry out a simple manipulation: a special dye (Nile Red) is injected into the bottle, which sticks to plastic microparticles and glows in certain rays of the spectrum. So you can assess the degree of content of harmful substances in the liquid, which is offered to drink daily. 

WHO is actively collaborating with various organizations. The water quality study was an initiative of Orb Media, a major journalistic organization. 250 bottles of water from 9 countries of the world from leading manufacturers have been tested in the laboratory. The result is deplorable – in almost every instance found traces of plastic. 

Chemistry professor Sherry Mason summed up the study well: “It’s not about pointing out specific brands. Research has shown that this applies to everyone.”

Interestingly, plastic is the most popular material for today’s laziness, especially in everyday life. But it is still unclear whether plastic enters the water, and what effect it has on the body, especially with prolonged exposure. This fact makes the WHO study extremely important.



For food packaging today, several dozen types of polymers are used. The most popular are polyethylene terephthalate (PET) or polycarbonate (PC). For quite a long time in the USA, the FDA has been studying the effect of plastic bottles on water. Prior to 2010, the Office reported a lack of statistical data for comprehensive analysis. And in January 2010, the FDA surprised the public with a detailed and extensive report on the presence of bisphenol A in bottles, which can lead to poisoning (decrease in sex and thyroid hormones, damage to hormonal function). 

Interestingly, back in 1997, Japan conducted local studies and abandoned bisphenol on a national scale. This is only one of the elements, the danger of which does not require proof. And how many other substances in bottles that negatively affect a person? The purpose of the WHO study is to determine whether they penetrate into the water during storage. If the answer is yes, then we can expect a restructuring of the entire food packaging industry.

According to the documents attached to the studied bottles, they are completely harmless and have undergone a full range of necessary studies. This is not at all surprising. But the following statement of representatives of bottled water manufacturers is more interesting. 

They emphasize that today there are no standards for the acceptable content of plastic in water. And in general, the impact on humans from these substances has not been established. It is somewhat reminiscent of the “tobacco lobby” and statements “about the lack of evidence of the negative impact of tobacco on health”, which took place 30 years ago … 

Only this time the investigation promises to be serious. A team of experts led by Professor Mason has already proven the presence of plastic in samples of tap water, sea water and air. Profile studies have received increased attention and interest from the public after the BBC documentary “The Blue Planet”, which talks about the pollution of the planet with plastic. 

The following brands of bottled water were tested at the initial stage of work: 

International water brands:

· Aquafina

· Dasani

·         Evian

·         Nestle

·         Pure

·         Life

· San Pellegrino


National Market Leaders:

Aqua (Indonesia)

· Bisleri (India)

Epura (Mexico)

· Gerolsteiner (Germany)

· Minalba (Brazil)

· Wahaha (China)

Water was bought in supermarkets and the purchase was recorded on video. Some brands were ordered via the Internet – this confirmed the honesty of the purchase of water. 

The water was treated with dyes and passed through a special filter that filters out particles larger than 100 microns (hair thickness). The captured particles were analyzed to make sure that it was plastic. 

The work done was highly appreciated by scientists. Thus, Dr. Andrew Myers (University of East Anglia) called the work of the group “an example of high-class analytical chemistry”. British Government Chemistry Consultant Michael Walker said “the work was done in good faith”. 

Experts suggest that the plastic was in the water in the process of opening the bottle. For the “purity” of studying the samples for the presence of plastic, all the elements used in the work were checked, including distilled water (for washing laboratory instruments), acetone (for diluting the dye). The concentration of plastic in these elements is minimal (apparently from the air). The biggest question for scientists arose because of the wide spread of results: in 17 samples out of 259, there was practically no plastic, in some its concentration was minimal, and somewhere it went off scale. 

Manufacturers of food and water unanimously declare that their production is carried out multi-stage water filtration, its detailed analysis and analysis. During the entire period of operation, only residual traces of plastic were found in the water. This is said in Nestle, Coca-Cola, Gerolsteiner, Danone and other companies. 

The study of the existing problem has begun. What will happen next – time will tell. We hope that the study will reach its final completion, and will not remain a fleeting piece of news in the news feed… 

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