Microplastics are now found in essential drinking water sources.
Plastic pollution is finally receiving the attention it needs. Scientists are carrying an increasing number of studies, while the general public gets access to information on the subject more than ever before.
In this piece I would like to draw the attention specifically to microplastics. These have recently been found pretty much everywhere scientists have looked. They found them in beer, table salt, even in the bellies of turtles. I guess, it was just a matter of time before these dangerous pollutants reached one of our main sources of life- drinking water.
Researchers from Illinois Sustainable Technology Center and Loyola University Chicago tested samples from key limestone groundwater sources in the region of Illinois. These particular type of aquifers are known for their highly porous geology. This makes it very easy for surface water to penetrate. What is more important to note here, however, is that such groundwater sources account for about a quarter of the entire supply of drinking water on a global scale.
The team collected and analyzed seventeen samples. Out of all these, only one was microplastic-free. The researchers speculate that these microplastics have reached the groundwater from household septic tanks.
Now, something that I find a bit worrying is that we cannot really tell for sure what the long-term consequences from this could be. Scientists and experts are still unsure what effects can these microplastics have on the human body. There is also no regulation or restriction on concentrations, and no limits that can define certain concentrations as “dangerous”.
On the positive note, people are looking into this. More and more studies are showing that microplastics are appearing everywhere in the environment, and getting uncomfortably close to our essential food and water sources. Let’s hope that governments will take these studies more seriously and try to integrate them in the legislation.
In the mean time, let’s all focus on raising awareness, and reducing the use of plastics as much as we can. Every little contribution towards the cause is already helping.
Image (c) AP