Bottled Water Microplastics Risks, How to Minimize Exposure - Dr. Axe

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Bottled Water Microplastics: How They Get There, Health Risks & How to Minimize Exposure


Bottled water microplastics - Dr. Axe

In recent years, concerns about the safety of bottled water have surged, especially with growing evidence of microplastics and nanoplastics contaminating our water supply. These tiny plastic particles, invisible to the naked eye, have raised alarm bells among health experts and environmentalists alike, and there’s no doubt that bottled water microplastics have become a significant concern due to their potential health risks.

In fact, research has revealed alarming levels of microplastics in bottled water. For instance, Columbia University and Rutgers University researchers found approximately 240,000 detectable plastic fragments in a typical liter of bottled water.

Another study conducted by Orb Media tested 259 bottles from 11 different brands and found that 93 percent of the samples contained microplastic contamination. The study identified an average of 325 plastic particles per liter of water.

These plastic nanoparticles, often less than five millimeters in size, can infiltrate drinking water through various means.

Let’s explore what microplastics are, how they end up in bottled water, their health risks and how you can minimize exposure.


What Are Microplastics?

Microplastics are plastic particles less than five millimeters in size, originating from various sources such as the breakdown of larger plastic debris, industrial processes and personal care products. Nanoplastics are even smaller, measuring less than 100 nanometers.

Both types of plastic particles are pervasive in the environment, making their way into oceans, rivers and even the air we breathe.

Recent studies have shown that bottled water can contain both microplastics and even smaller nanoplastics, which pose unique challenges due to their minute size.

How Do Microplastics Get Into Bottled Water?

Microplastics can enter bottled water at multiple stages of the production process:

1. Source water contamination

Natural water sources, including springs and aquifers, can be contaminated with microplastics due to environmental pollution. These particles are difficult to remove entirely through conventional water treatment processes.

2. Bottling process

During the bottling process, microplastics can leach into the water from the plastic bottles and caps themselves. Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and other polymers used in bottle manufacturing can degrade over time, especially when exposed to sunlight and heat.

3. Production process

During the bottling process, microplastics can be introduced from the machinery and filtration systems used. For example, polyamide particles, a type of nylon, have been found to contaminate bottled water through plastic filters used for purification.

4. Packaging and storage

Microplastics can also enter bottled water during storage and transportation. Improper handling and exposure to fluctuating temperatures can exacerbate the release of microplastics from the bottle into the water.

Health Risks of Bottled Water Microplastics

The ingestion of microplastics and nanoplastics through bottled water poses several potential health risks:

1. Toxic chemical exposure

Microplastics can act as carriers for toxic chemicals such as bisphenol A (BPA), phthalates and other harmful substances. These chemicals can disrupt endocrine functions and lead to various health issues, such as development malformations, interference with reproduction, great risk of cancer, and immune and nervous system function disturbances.

2. Inflammatory responses

Studies suggest that microplastics can induce inflammatory responses in the body, potentially leading to conditions such as gastrointestinal inflammation and other related diseases.

3. Cellular damage

Nanoplastics, due to their extremely small size, can penetrate cellular membranes, causing oxidative stress and cellular damage. This can interfere with normal cellular functions and may contribute to chronic diseases.

4. Bioaccumulation

Continuous ingestion of microplastics may lead to bioaccumulation in the body, potentially exacerbating the long-term health effects.

5. Organ and tissue damage

Microplastics can cause physical damage to tissues and organs if they accumulate in significant quantities.

6. Further exposure to pollutants

Microplastics can adsorb and transport other pollutants, including heavy metals and organic toxins, potentially introducing them into the human body when ingested.


How to Minimize Exposure

While it may be challenging to avoid microplastics entirely, there are several steps you can take to minimize your exposure:

1. Choose glass or stainless steel

Opt for water stored in glass or stainless steel containers instead of plastic bottles. These materials are less likely to leach harmful particles into the water.

For instance, studies have shown that glass bottles tend to have lower levels of microplastic contamination compared to plastic bottles​.

2. Use water filters

Invest in high-quality water filters that are capable of removing microplastics and helping remove tap water toxicity. Look for a filter with a pore size small enough to capture even the tiniest particles.

3. Avoid single-use plastics

Reduce your consumption of single-use plastics, which contribute to environmental pollution and the breakdown into microplastics. Use reusable water bottles and other sustainable alternatives.

4. Stay informed

Keep abreast of the latest research on microplastics and water safety. Awareness is key to making informed choices about the water you consume.


The presence of microplastics and nanoplastics in bottled water is a pressing issue that requires immediate attention. While the full extent of their health impacts is still being studied, it is clear that reducing exposure to these contaminants is essential.

By making conscious choices about the water you drink and the containers you use, you can protect yourself and contribute to a healthier environment.

Stay informed, choose wisely and advocate for cleaner, safer water for all.

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