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Researchers find a massive number of plastic particles in bottled water

Microscopic pieces of plastic are everywhere. Now, they’ve been found in bottled water in concentrations 10 to 100 times more than previously estimated.

Researchers from Columbia University and Rutgers University found roughly 240,000 detectable plastic fragments in a typical liter of bottled water. The study was published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

About 10% of the detected plastic particles were microplastics, and the other 90% were nanoplastics. Microplastics are between 5 millimeters to 1 micrometer; nanoplastics are particles less than 1 micrometer in size. For context, a human hair is about 70 micrometers thick.

Microplastics have already been found in people’s lungs, their excrement, their blood and in placentas, among other places. A 2018 study found an average of 325 pieces of microplastics in a liter of bottled water.

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