Plastics takes a lot of time to break down. It does not decompose but breaks down into tiny pieces, called microplastics.
These microplastics are invading the world’s water sources and cannot be seen with naked eyes. Still, they are present in most water bodies and sources of drinking water, which means that most people consume microplastics when they drink water.
Types of Microplastics
There are two types of microplastics-Primary microplastics and secondary microplastics. Primary microplastics are artificial and are used in toothpaste, scrubs, liquid handwash, biomedical products, etc. Secondary microplastics originate from the degradation of plastic waste. UV radiation from ocean waves and the sun break down the plastics thrown in oceans and rivers, creating microplastics. The microplastics tend to cover the seabed where it harms the ecosystem that feeds on the seabed.
What Can Be Done?
Microplastics invade drinking water in a variety of ways. From atmospheric deposition, sewer overflows plastic and industrial waste. We also ingest microplastics from the air and food. Whatever is written on the bottle, bottled waters also contain microplastic.
Microplastics in food, water, and the air is hard to avoid altogether. However, we can limit the number of microplastics consumed by drinking filtered water instead of bottled water because these bottles will, in turn, contribute to the amount of plastic waste in the environment. Also, by using fewer plastics in our daily life, we can reduce plastic waste. Some other ways to reduce plastic waste are using public transport instead of private cars because a source of microplastics is the fibres from tires; start using biodegradable and sustainable materials.
Water coolers with new technology filtration reduce microplastics in water. This way is the optimum way to minimize the number of microplastics in drinking water. There are a variety of filters in the market at varying prices.
The best type of filters for tackling the problem of microplastics are:
- Carbon Blocks faucet filters: These are the most effective as they get rid of all known microplastics.
- Reverse Osmosis Filters: These can filter up to 0.001-micron microplastics, so they will remove all known microplastics but are costly and will need to be maintained.
- Distillation filters: They are said to deliver pure water and remove all microplastics.
Some examples of good quality filters are Soma filters which use more sustainable materials and thus reduce plastic. Zero Water has a filter made of stainless steel, so no plastic is used.
The Effect Microplastics Have on Our Health
We do not know the exact consequences of our health when we ingest microplastics, but the evidence is that it affects our hormones. According to Shanna Swan, an environmental science and public health professor at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City, being exposed to plastics and chemicals fundamentally affects children’s sperm level and development cycle. Since we do not know enough about the health consequences, we should not drink bottled water and filter tap water before drinking.