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Plastic particles in bottled water

  1. Apr 2, 2018 #1
    So recently news broke about there being plastic particles/contaminants inside major brand water bottles (plastic), so since I don't drink bottles water but use some plastic bottles myself to fill in some fresh water from the local forest I then wonder how did the plastic particles got in the bottles in the first place? Is that because of some sort of mechanism used in the bottle fill up or are those particles coming from the bottle itself, and if so do they continue to accumulate in used plastic bottles that have been filled and emptied many times before, as in my situation?


    Above all I am not that well versed in chemistry but how dangerous it is exactly to have some minor amount of ordinary plastics like Polyethylene and others digested in the body? I read in other places that those particles aren't absorbed due to their different molecular weight and chemical properties unlike those of food and so get largely extracted out of the body and don't accumulate.
    some expert opinion on this matter would be welcome, thanks.
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 2, 2018 #2
    Could it have to do with recycling? (Just an idea)
    [I used to prefer bottle watter (usually plastic), but now I use a good tap filter, still filling up bottles though, as you ...]
  4. Apr 2, 2018 #3


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    See the previous discussion here: https://www.physicsforums.com/threa...d-water-brands-contaminated-w-plastic.942220/

    The article cited in the OP suggested that the plastic may come from processing of the bottles, so reuse of the bottles might not produce the same contamination with plastic particles. It also seems like it's very unclear whether the particles would cause any health problems. My guess would be that the health risks from the plastic particles would be less than the risks of drinking untreated water from a forest.
  5. Apr 2, 2018 #4
    I've always thought of finished plastic (of that type) as uniform and stable. It might be the use of recycling plastic that degrades it (like paper). I am not sure though. This is just a guess. I will try to look into 'recycling bottles', but I doubt they have announced anything official yet. Other than that, it could also be just the original construction [of those plasic bottles] too.
    I agree that reusing the same bottle seems safe, but Caution, not many times, as bacteria or other micro-organisms tend to accumulate on the walls of [any type of] bottles (including glass). Only thorough cleaning with detergent and brush would make an 'old - many times used' bottle ~brand new again ...
    From the OP quoted source:
    "Sherri Mason, a professor of chemistry at the university, conducted the analysis and told BBC News: "We found [plastic] in bottle after bottle and brand after brand.

    "It's not about pointing fingers at particular brands; it's really showing that this is everywhere, that plastic has become such a pervasive material in our society, and it’s pervading water - all of these products that we consume at a very basic level."

    Currently, there is no evidence that ingesting very small pieces of plastic (microplastics) can cause harm, but understanding the potential implications is an active area of science.

    _100423734_2b6578e0-430a-417b-bc15-1337b51b9d75.jpg Image copyrightORB MEDIA
    Image captionAfter filtration, the larger particles - yellow marks - are easy to see

    Commenting on the results, Prof Mason said: "It's not catastrophic, the numbers that we're seeing, but it is concerning."

    Experts have told the BBC that people in developing countries where tap water may be polluted should continue to drink water from plastic bottles.
  6. Apr 2, 2018 #5
    I read from a site a long time ago (I forget which one but it was reliable) that overtime some particles will get into the water but it is so small that it is negligible. I will try to re-find the site but I doubt I will find the same one. Also according to the site if you leave the container mostly filled in the light it acts as a magnifying glass and can start fires as well as melt the case bit by bit causing particles to get in, and only then is it harmful (although not much). I will try to double check if this is accurate
  7. Apr 2, 2018 #6
  8. Apr 5, 2018 #7
    The trouble is that this sort of story is very common and often targets specific companies. Coca Cola has been the target of several, the last one was a colorless worm in their bottled water & I notice Nestle water was identified as one of the worst. Its interesting that the same contaminant has been claimed to be present in tap water and in water bottled in glass. Apparently its found across the world, regardless of the source and somehow escapes the quality control systems of both companies and public health bodies. Apparently the various theories about recycled plastic, heating and freezing etc all lack credibility, there have been similar stories linking plastic bottles to cancer.
    Some fairly recent published research that found plastic micro-particles in fish for human consumption had to be retracted, the researchers were also active environmentalists and further investigation lead to more retractions.
    Its a good example of how public perception can be manipulated when certain products are demonized, these tactics are common in both environmentalism and in public heath. Its worth considering the next time you read about the public's crisis in confidence in science, its nothing to do with ignorance, its the fact that a great deal of information masquerades as science and undermines its credibility.
  9. Apr 14, 2018 #8

    Fervent Freyja

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    A small amount of cross-contamination for all packaged food and beverages should be expected. Few materials used to package products create rigid enough boundaries to prevent cross-contamination during the packaging process and during the natural decay process of the material afterwards. There isn't enough stability in most packaging materials for anyone to claim no cross-contamination occurs.
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