WHO: No risk from microplastics in drinking water

They are created when artificial materials break down into particles smaller than about 5 millimeters.  People have inadvertently swallowed it for decades without any harm.  For the UN agency, the priority is bacteria that cause typhoid and cholera: "they cause disease and can kill".


 Geneva (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The amount of microplastics contained in drinking water does not represent a health risk for those who ingest it.  This is what emerges from a research published yesterday by the World Health Organization (WHO).  The United Nations (UN) agency states that fragments of plastic material are however "ubiquitous in the environment";  even in drinking water - both tap and bottled - most likely due to the treatment and distribution systems.

Bruce Gordon, WHO coordinator for water and sanitation, says: "But just because we’re ingesting them doesn’t mean we have a risk to human health. The main conclusion is, I think, if you are a consumer drinking bottled water or tap water, you shouldn’t necessarily be concerned".  However, Gordon acknowledges that the currently available data is "weak" and further research is needed.  The official also calls for greater efforts to reduce global plastic pollution.

Microplastics are created when artificial materials break up into tiny particles smaller than about 5 millimeters, although there is still no strict scientific definition.  The study presented is the first of its kind on their potential risks.  It notes that people have inadvertently consumed microplastics and other particles present in the environment for decades, with no trace of damage.  Gordon said that although the WHO continues to monitor the levels of microplastics in water, the priority is bacteria that cause typhoid and cholera.  "These - he concludes - cause immediate illness and can kill one million people".

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