Investigation raises concerns over plastics in drinking water

  • Reading


An investigation led by US media organisation Orb Media has revealed the presence of plastic fibres in drinking water samples around the world.

In their report ‘Invisibles – the plastic inside us’, Chris Tyree and Dan Morrison present the findings of an assessment based on 159 samples from around the world and carried out with the input of a researcher from University of Minnesota School of Public Health.

‘In the first public scientific study of its kind, we found previously unknown plastic contamination in the tap water of cities around the world,’ the authors comment.

83% of the samples worldwide were found to contain plastic fibres. Figures include 94% in USA and Beirut, Lebanon, 82% in New Delhi, India, and 72% in Europe. 18 sites were tested across seven European countries, with plastic fibres found in 13.

‘Microplastics have been shown to absorb toxic chemicals linked to cancer and other illnesses, and then release them when consumed by fish and mammals,’ the authors state. They point to sources such as synthetic fibres released from washing machines, tyre dust, paints, secondary microplastics, synthetic fibres in the air, and microbeads.

The authors note that the relatively small number of samples means the results are limited in their accuracy in terms, for example, of the wider situation in specific countries. Equally, because of the testing available, the results focused only on fibres of 100 microns and larger.

To read the Orb Media plastics report, go to:


  • microplastics, municipal water, drinking water contamination