The global problem of improper plastic waste disposal has found its way back to us–through the water we drink. Now the World Health Organization has released an official assessment claiming that microplastics found in drinking water are a “minimal health risk” to humans. However, that doesn’t mean it’s not something to watch out for since it is only ruled as a minimal health risk because of the lack of evidence that supports otherwise.
The United Nations agency warned that more studies are required to find out the extent of how plastic pollution in the environment works its way through our bodies. The Guardian reports that the term “microplastics” have no universal definition but is generally accepted as plastic particles that are smaller than half a millimeter across.
Despite public outcry against plastic pollution, the plastic production industry is continuously growing over the past decades. Experts predict that plastic production will double once more by the year 2025 according to the recently published WHO report.
According to a study published in 2009, some plastics break down within a year in our oceans, which isn’t a good thing as per the National Geographic.
These broken down plastics create beads and threads that soon turn into minuscule particles that end up reaching drinking water supplies. The Guardian reports that studies show minuscule pieces from the polymers used in making disposable water bottles end up in the drinking water it contains.
However, WHO says that these microplastics are not as worrisome as the presence of bacteria and viruses because the body is able to let these particles pass right through. While much smaller particles could potentially get stuck in the walls of our digestive tracts, not enough will accumulate to cause harm.
“Based on the limited evidence available, chemicals and microbial pathogens associated with microplastics in drinking water pose a low concern for human health. Although there is insufficient information to draw firm conclusions on the toxicity of nanoparticles, no reliable information suggests it is a concern,” the WHO reports.