Sun | Sep 22, 2019

Don’t worry about drinking microplastics in water - WHO

Published:Thursday | August 22, 2019 | 12:51 PM
In this May 23 2019 file photo, Southern Connecticut State University professor Vincent Breslin holds a sample of water that contains possible microplastics at the North Haven Water Treatment Plant on Universal Drive. (Bailey Wright/Record-Journal via AP)

GENEVA (AP) — The World Health Organization says the levels of microplastics in drinking water don’t appear to be risky, but that research has been spotty and more is needed into their effects on the environment and health.

Microplastics are created when man-made materials break down into tiny particles smaller than about five millimetres (roughly one-fifth of an inch), although there is no strict scientific definition.

In a report published Wednesday, the U.N. health agency said the minuscule plastics are “ubiquitous in the environment” and have been found in drinking water, including both tap and bottled, most likely as the result of treatment and distribution systems.

“But just because we’re ingesting them doesn’t mean we have a risk to human health,” said Bruce Gordon, WHO’s coordinator of water, sanitation and hygiene.

“The main conclusion is, I think, if you are a consumer drinking bottled water or tap water, you shouldn't’t necessarily be concerned.”

Gordon acknowledged, however, that the available data is “weak” and that more research is needed.

He also urged broader efforts to reduce plastic pollution.

The report is the WHO’s first review to investigate the potential human health risks of microplastics.

It said people have inadvertently consumed microplastics and other particles in the environment for decades without a sign of harm.

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