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Survey: Microplastics found in nearly half of tap water in Taiwan

By Ma Chi | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2018-09-27 11:29
Tiny pieces of plastics are found in nearly half of tap water at homes in Taiwan. [Photo/VCG]

A Taiwan survey found health-threatening microplastics in nearly half of the tap water in homes, according to Taiwan media.

Findings of the survey -- which focused on microplastic pollution in tap water, seawater, beach sand and shells -- were published by Taiwan environmental authority on Wednesday.

It revealed that 61 percent of unprocessed water in water purification plants contains microplastic fibers, which were discovered in 44 percent of household tap water.

The survey shows an average of 0.75 microplastic fibers, mainly polyethylene and nylon, are contained in each liter of clean tap water.

Microplastics. [Photo/VCG]

Through researching seven marine farms and two beaches, the survey discovered up to nearly 20,000 microplastics in every 1,000 liters of seawater and up to 2,400 microplastics in each kilogram of beach sand.

Microplastics are small plastic pieces less than 5 millimeters long, the size of a rice grain. They are created from the degradation of larger plastic products, such as plastic bags and bottles, once they enter the natural environment through the weathering process.

To fight plastic pollution, Taiwan plans to ban the use of disposable plastic straws in public places, such as shopping centers and restaurants, from July 2019.

A graphic shows the pollution of microplastic fibers in tap water around the world. [Guardian]

Globally, more than 300 million tons of plastics are produced each year, 90 percent of which are thrown away after use.

Only around 70 percent of plastic waste can be recycled, while the rest ends up in the environment, leaving potential sources of microplastic pollution.

Though research on the health risks from microplastics is still in its infancy, these tiny pieces are believed to be able to pick up harmful bacteria while passing through wastewater plants and possibly infect humans after being ingested.

Another risk is that plastics have a number of chemicals added at the manufacturing stage, and it is possible that these are released in the body, according to a report by CNN.

 

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