Geneva (dpa) – The public should not be concerned about tiny plastic particles in drinking water, the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Geneva has concluded…
Most of the so-called microplastics that are swallowed leave the body again after passing through the digestive system, the UN agency said Thursday in a report that sums up the small but growing number of existing scientific studies on this issue.
“We are not alarmed by any means,” WHO water expert Bruce Gordon told a press conference ahead of the report’s publication.
To assess the risk of chemicals additives being released from ingested plastics, the WHO made worst-case assumptions about the size and concentration of particles that humans could be exposed to.
“We found that there was a substantial safety margin” between the projected chemicals absorption by the body and the levels that would be considered harmful, Gordon said.
Invest in more water treatment systems
Given these low risks, the WHO said countries should worry less about microplastics and should do more to invest in water treatment systems in general to remove harmful microbes that cause nearly 500,000 deaths from diarrhoea each year.
An estimated 2 billion people around the world drink water that is contaminated with faeces.
Nevertheless, the WHO stressed that consumers and governments must reduce the use of plastics in general to protect the environment.
The UN agency also urged scientists to produce more studies and to use comparable methods to get a better picture of plastics in drinking water.
For example, the WHO said different studies have found widely varying levels of particle concentrations, but that this may be due to different filters being used by different research teams.
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Author: ANA Newswire