Indian Firms Contest Study Claiming Bottled Water Contains Plastic Particles

A single bottle can hold dozens or possibly even thousands of microscopic plastic particles, the study said.


Bottling companies in India have contested the findings of a research, which said that 90 per cent of bottled water from top brands globally, including India, contains microplastics. Indian bottling companies said on March 16 that they enforce stringent quality control.

“Bisleri water undergoes a stringent 10-step purification process. All Bisleri production facilities have their own quality testing labs that ensure that every Bisleri product is made as per guidelines set by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) and WHO (World Health Organization),” Ramesh Chauhan, chairman and managing director, Bisleri International, said, IANS reported. He added that the safety of the consumers is of utmost importance to the brand and the issue is being investigated.

The research, conducted by Orb Media, a non-profit journalism organization based in Washington DC, said a single bottle can hold dozens or possibly even thousands of microscopic plastic particles. Tests on more than 250 bottles from 11 brands sold in various countries like India, the United States, and Brazil revealed contamination with plastic, including polypropylene, nylon, and polyethylene terephthalate. Samples from India were gathered from Chennai , Mumbai and Delhi.

“Bottled water evokes safety and convenience in a world full of real and perceived threats to personal and public health. Orb’s findings suggest that a person who drinks a liter of bottled water a day might be consuming tens of thousands of microplastic particles each year,” the research said.

The test of top bottled water brands from countries in Asia, Europe, Africa, and the Americas was conducted at professor Sherri Mason’s lab at the State University of New York in Fredonia. The study said that Mason’s tests were able to record microplastic particles as small as 6.5 microns, or 0.0065 millimeters. The invisible plastic in bottled water hides in plain sight.

The brands that were tested included Aqua, Aquafina, Bisleri, Dasani, and Nestle Pure Life. According to the research, Nestle tested six bottles from three locations after an inquiry from Orb Media. Nestle’s head of quality Frederic de Bruyne said that the tests showed between zero and five plastic particles per liter. None of the other bottlers agreed to make public the results of their tests for plastic contamination, the study said.

“Aquafina maintains rigorous quality-control measures, sanitary manufacturing practices, filtration and other food safety mechanisms which yield a reliably safe product for enjoyment anywhere in the world,” PepsiCo India said in a statement on March 15.

The statement added that the science of microplastics and microfibres is in its infancy. Microplastic particles are found across the environment, including soil, air and water.

The research said that for microplastic debris around 100 microns in size, about the diameter of a human hair, bottled water samples contained nearly twice as many pieces of microplastic per liter (10.4) than tap water samples (4.45). “Bottled water is marketed as the very essence of purity. It’s the fastest-growing beverage market in the world, valued at US$147 billion per year,” said the study.

According to the World Health Organization, packaged drinking water is a lifeline for many of the 2.1 billion people worldwide who lack access to safe tap water. Around 4,000 children die every day from water-borne diseases.


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