A new study commissioned by the Story of Stuff Project has
found a widespread plastic microfiber–contamination in bottled water. This may not
seem like a huge deal at first—the
bottles are made up of plastic, after all—remember that because plastic doesn’t
break down, it can accumulate wherever it lands, including our bodies.
Within the study, 19 different bottled water brands were
analyzed for microparticle contamination. On the list to test were Aquafina,
Arrowhead, Boxed Water, Crystal Geyser, Dasani, Deer Park, Eternal Water,
Evian, Fiji, Glaceau Smart, Ice Mountain, Icelandic Glacial, Ozarka, Penta,
Poland Spring, Texas Spring Water, Trader Joe’s Mountain Spring, True Zealand and Zephyrhills.
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Once the results were in—Abigail Barrows of Ocean Analytics
headed up the testing, and carefully sampled each brand under a microscope—the
results were shocking. The brands with the most contamination were Boxed Water,
Fiji, Ozarka and Evian, Icelandic Glacial and Crystal Geyser had the highest
levels of contamination, respectively.
Although we don’t fully understand yet the health implications of consuming microplastic, Barrows says the preliminary results of
this study are clear: “People are directly ingesting plastic particles when
drinking most types of bottled water.”
But how do these plastic particles get bottled? Shockingly
enough, a report from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)
says one of the biggest contributors to microfiber pollution comes from the
washing of synthetic clothing discharged through washing machine waste. (Several
studies have already shown that synthetic clothing is found in the bellies of
fish and other seafood, and now it’s entering our bottled water.)
“This investigation demonstrates the ubiquity of microfiber
pollution in water writ large, even in products that consumers pay a premium
for,” says Stiv Wilson, campaigns director for The Story of Stuff Project. “We
need to solve this problem upstream and drastically rethink or dependence on
persistent fossil-fueled derived textiles that have a very big unintended
If your go-to water brand was listed as a main offender, trying
a different brand for now is in your best interest, or better yet, consider investing
in a glass bottle and refill it yourself to reduce waste altogether.