Safety of bottled water to be investigated after microplastics found

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"The research results do not correspond to the internal analyses that we conduct on a regular basis", the company said in a response.

A study published on Wednesday tested 250 water bottles in nine countries to find that leading brands of bottled water were contaminated with tiny plastic particles, likely seeping in during the packaging process.

However, he emphasised that plastic bottles of water must be safely stored by factories and consumers to avoid free radicals leading to carcinogens. The tests were conducted at the State University of NY in Fredonia. "We stand by the safety of our bottled water products and we are interested in contributing to serious scientific research that will ... help us all understand the scope, impact and appropriate next steps".

"We don't even know all the chemicals in plastics", Muncke told Orb.

The test involved adding a fluorescent dye called Nile Red which sticks to free-floating pieces of plastic.

"In this study, 65 per cent of the particles we found were actually fragments and not fibres", Professor Mason said. This latest work comes amid growing worldwide attention on plastic, fuelled by the BBC's acclaimed Blue Planet 2 series in which Sir David Attenborough highlighted the threat of plastic waste in our oceans.

Asked whether some of the bottled water brands included in the study had fewer plastic particles than others, Tyree replied: "There is really no one better brand, to be honest". Brands tested include Aquafina, Aqua, Bisleri, Dasani, Epura, Evian, Nestlé, Gerolsteiner, Minalba, Wahaha, and San Pellegrino.

As part of the tests, Orb Media analysed water from US, China, Brazil, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Lebanon, Kenya and Thailand.

The researchers recorded all their purchases on video to prove there was no contamination. Some packs in the United States were ordered over the internet.

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The amount of particles varied from bottle to bottle: while some contained one, others contained thousands.

Nestlé was not satisfied with the method used to test the water, telling CBC News using Nile red dye could "generate false positives".

Some of these particles - large enough to be handled individually - were then analyzed by infrared spectroscopy, confirmed as plastic and further identified as particular types of polymer.

Proportion of sample bottles found to contain plastic particles. Last year, Orb Media conducted research that found plastic particles in tap water as well.

While the majority of the samples came in plastic bottles, water in glass bottles also held microplastic. It said it could not understand how Prof Mason's study reached its conclusions. Meanwhile, 4% of the particles showed presence of industrial lubricants.

Coca-Cola said it had some of the most stringent quality standards in the industry and used a "multi-step filtration process".

Microbeads - tiny plastic beads found in some beauty products that were banned in the U.S.in 2015 - are another source of plastics in water.

WHO says that there is now not any evidence on the impacts of microplastics on human health, but they will "review the very scarce available evidence with the objective of identifying evidence gaps, and establishing a research agenda to inform a more thorough risk assessment".

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