Microplastics in drinking water: WHO calls for new studies to evaluate possible health risks

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Elia Tabuenca García
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As we know, microplastics are now present everywhere: seas, rivers, bottled water and even tap water, but there are few reliable data on the impact these substances have on our health. The World Health Organization (WHO) is now intervening on the issue, asking for further information on the possible risks of ingesting microplastics through drinking water.



As we know, the microplastics they are now present everywhere: seas, rivers, bottled water and even tap water but there are few reliable data on the impact these substances have on our health. The World Health Organization (WHO) is now intervening on the issue, asking for further information on the possible risks of ingesting microplastics through drinking water.



Unfortunately, microplastics enter the drinking water cycle through commercial wastewater and discharges, from the degradation of synthetic objects and fabrics as well as through plastic bottles and caps.

The WHO, in its latest report dedicated to microplastics: "Microplastics in Drinking Water", has launched an appeal in which it asks for reliable studies and assessments on the risks we run from drinking water in which these substances are present.

The dangers of ingesting the microplastics contained in the water drinking are basically two:

  • physical: due tobacklog of these substances in our organism
  • chemical type: related to them toxicity

But there is also the possibility that microplastics may be carriers of pathogenic microbes.

These substances can be different in composition, and their sizes are also different. It is thought that those greater than 150 micrometers are expelled through digestion by our body while the smaller ones tend to be more dangerous as they can reach organs such as the liver and kidneys.

From the few studies available at the moment (only 9), it seems however that microplastics in drinking water do not currently represent a health risk but what we know is too little. To support this is Maria Neira, director of the Department of Public Health and Environment at the WHO:

“Based on the limited information we have, the microplastics in drinking water they do not appear to pose a health risk at current levels. But we urgently need to know more ”.

The limits of the scientific information available to date are many and the most serious is probably, as stated by Dr. Neira herself, that "different methods and instruments are used to sample and analyze plastic particles".



WHO therefore requests the use of:

"Standard methods to measure the presence and to study the sources, as well as to evaluate the consequences on the organism".

Given that these are very small fragments of plastic, the WHO also confirms the urgent need to stop the indiscriminate use of this material, improving recycling but above all investing in alternatives.

Microplastics is a very serious problem, both at the environmental level and in animal and human health, especially if we consider that we introduce these substances into our body not only through water (think of those who consume fish, salt, toothpastes, to cosmetics, etc.).

You might be interested in all our other articles on microplastics:

  • Microplastics are now truly everywhere: new studies reveal the terrible contamination
  • Fizzy drinks and soft drinks, they're all chock full of microplastics. Here is who contains the most
  • Microplastics: We ingest an amount that weighs like a credit card every week
  • Microplastics are now truly everywhere: new studies reveal the terrible contamination
  • Microplastics: We ingest an amount that weighs like a credit card every week
  • Water, beer and salt: the list of foods with the most microplastics



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