A new study revealed some disturbing results about the water coming from your tap. After testing water samples across the country, research showed that most drinking water is contaminated with plastic fibers.
Orb Media, a non-profit digital newsroom, teamed up with college professors to tests 159 water samples across five continents. Results show 83% of samples – from New York City to Quito, Ecuador – had microscopic plastic fibers floating in them.
The study is the first to show plastic contamination in tap water around the world. Samples came from a variety of different homes, businesses and well-known locations like the U.S. Capitol Complex, EPA Headquarters and Trump Grill in NY.
Where is the plastic coming from?
Researchers aren’t 100% sure where the plastic fibers come from, especially since the amount of plastic pollution has skyrocketed in the last decade, particularly in waterways.
Oceans and streams that were once full of organic material are now 60 to 80 percent composed of plastic pollution.
While the number of pollution sources is great, researchers do speculate that at least some of the plastic fibers come from clothes. Research suggests that 700,000 microscopic plastic fibers are released during a single load of wash. Wastewater plants do catch about half of those fibers, but that still leaves an estimated 64,000 pounds of fibers that get past filters.
Cities are just learning about this kind of contamination and some are slowing the filtering process down to collect more fibers, but it increases costs. New filters for washing machines are also available to catch more fibers from your wash.
Can plastic fibers harm your health?
Just as researchers don’t know where these fibers come from, they don’t know what they can do to your health either.
Is it safe to consume your tap water knowing there’s likely plastic in it? Can bacteria attach to these fibers and serve as a vehicle for illness? Is the problem getting worse?
The research raises more questions than answers, but the EPA confirms that there isn’t a safety standard for plastic in drinking water, nor is it on a watch list of known pollutants that the agency looks for.
More testing is needed to figure out the impact of these fibers, which are so small they can’t be seen by the naked eye.
Approaching plastic differently
The study points to a bigger problem: America’s love affair with plastic. For the last 50 years, plastic production has increased, with 299 million tons produced in 2013.
Most of the plastic consumed is single-use. A soda bottle, for example, is used once and thrown away. It’s time to curb the amount of plastic we consume.
Refill technology provides a solution that could drastically reduce the amount of plastic that consumer’s purchase. Rather than buying a new bottle of shampoo every month, for example, you can refill a bottle at your local retailer.
With refill stations set up inside retailers, consumers can refill a variety of products – from shampoo to mouthwash.
Consumers simply place the bottle in the refill station and the machine washes, fills and seals the bottle in minutes.
However, retailers need to hear from consumers like you before they’re willing to install refill stations. Sign the petition below to ask retailers nationwide to set up refill stations and help solve the nation’s massive plastic pollution problem.