A study by the State University of New York in Fredonia has found that a large number of plastic bottled water brands contain microplastics.
Commissioned by the Washington-based Orb Media, the study tested of more than 250 bottles from 11 leading brands worldwide, revealing contamination with plastic debris, including polypropylene, nylon, and PET.
“Plastic was identified in 93 of the samples. The global average was 325 particles per liter,” Orb noted in a March 14 news release.
The study has not been published by a journal or peer-reviewed.
Brands tested by Orb included Aqua (Danone), Aquafina (PepsiCo), Bisleri (Bisleri International), Dasani (Coca-Cola), Evian (Danone), Gerolsteiner (Gerolsteiner Brunnen), Minalba (Grupo Edson Queiroz), Nestlé Pure Life (Nestlé), San Pellegrino (Nestlé), and Wahaha (Hangzhou Wahaha Group).
Samples came from 19 locations in nine countries on five continents including Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Lebanon, Mexico, Thailand, and the U.S.
While the majority of the samples came in plastic bottles, water in glass bottles also held microplastic.
In response to the findings, bottled water manufacturers emphasized their products met all government requirements.
Germany's Gerolsteiner told Orb that its own tests "have come up with a significantly lower quantity of microparticles per liter," than found in Orb's study.
Nestle tested six bottles from three locations after an inquiry from Orb Media. Those tests, said Nestle Head of Quality Frederic de Bruyne, showed between zero and five plastic particles per liter.
United Kingdom-based newspaper The Guardian noted a similar study commissioned by environmental group The Story of Stuff which found microplastics in 19 bottled waters in the U.S., including the brand Boxed Water.
Researcher Abigail Barrows of Ocean Analytics, who carried out the research for Story of Stuff in her laboratory in Maine, told The Guardian there were several possible routes for the plastics to be entering the bottles.
“Plastic microfibers are easily airborne. Clearly that's occurring not just outside but inside factories. It could come in from fans or the clothing being worn,” she said.
According to Anca Paduraru, a food safety spokeswoman for the European Commission, microplastic is not directly regulated in bottled water.
However, she noted, that “legislation makes clear there must be no contaminants."
The U.S. doesn't have specific rules for microplastic in food and beverages, Orb Media said.