The data journalism group Orb and researchers at the University of Minnesota have found startling amounts of microplastics in 94% of US tap water. Microplastics are very small plastic fibers and fragments that have been shown to absorb toxic chemicals from the environment. Micro-plastics release those toxic chemicals when consumed by humans and animals, which can lead to cancer and other illnesses. Plastic is almost indestructible, so it will only break down into smaller pieces. These pieces are so small that they can travel from the intestine into other organs, and experts suggest they are in everything from baby food to beer.
How Do Microplastics Make Their Way Into Our Water Supply?
Where has all this plastic come from? Almost everywhere. The dust from tires is washed into sewers, where it goes to the rivers and oceans. Washing clothes with synthetic fibers, washing paint from brushes in the sink, and the micro-beads they once allowed in cosmetics all end up in our drinking water. The US is not alone in this problem, with microplastics found in 72% of the tap water in Europe, 82% in New Delhi, India, and elsewhere.
What Can Be Done About Microplastics?
The sad truth is that these microplastics are everywhere, so it would be nearly impossible to avoid them. However, we can reduce the amount of plastic in the environment in the future by being more conscious of the problem now. By learning to recycle and use less of these harmful plastic products in our day to day lives, we can have a definite impact on making a healthier world.