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Anthropogenic contamination of tap water, beer, and sea salt

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Plastic pollution has been well documented in natural environments, including the open waters and sediments within lakes and rivers, the open ocean and even the air, but less attention has been paid to synthetic polymers in human consumables. Since multiple toxicity studies indicate risks to human health when plastic particles are ingested, more needs to be known about the presence and abundance of anthropogenic particles in human foods and beverages. This study investigates the presence of anthropogenic particles in 159 samples of globally sourced tap water, 12 brands of Laurentian Great Lakes beer, and 12 brands of commercial sea salt. Of the tap water samples analyzed, 81% were found to contain anthropogenic particles. The majority of these particles were fibers (98.3%) between 0.1–5 mm in length. The range was 0 to 61 particles/L, with an overall mean of 5.45 particles/L. Anthropogenic debris was found in each brand of beer and salt. Of the extracted particles, over 99% were fibers. After adjusting for particles found in lab blanks for both salt and beer, the average number of particles found in beer was 4.05 particles/L with a range of 0 to 14.3 particles/L and the average number of particles found in each brand of salt was 212 particles/kg with a range of 46.7 to 806 particles/kg. Based on consumer guidelines, our results indicate the average person ingests over 5,800 particles of synthetic debris from these three sources annually, with the largest contribution coming from tap water (88%).
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RESEARCH ARTICLE
Anthropogenic contamination of tap water,
beer, and sea salt
Mary Kosuth
1
*, Sherri A. Mason
2
, Elizabeth V. Wattenberg
1
1University of Minnesota, School of Public Health, Division of Environmental Health Sciences, Minneapolis,
Minnesota, United States of America, 2State University of New York at Fredonia, Department of Chemistry
and Biochemistry, Fredonia, New York, United States of America
These authors contributed equally to this work.
*kosu0003@umn.edu
Abstract
Plastic pollution has been well documented in natural environments, including the open
waters and sediments within lakes and rivers, the open ocean and even the air, but less
attention has been paid to synthetic polymers in human consumables. Since multiple toxicity
studies indicate risks to human health when plastic particles are ingested, more needs to be
known about the presence and abundance of anthropogenic particles in human foods and
beverages. This study investigates the presence of anthropogenic particles in 159 samples
of globally sourced tap water, 12 brands of Laurentian Great Lakes beer, and 12 brands of
commercial sea salt. Of the tap water samples analyzed, 81% were found to contain anthro-
pogenic particles. The majority of these particles were fibers (98.3%) between 0.1–5 mm in
length. The range was 0 to 61 particles/L, with an overall mean of 5.45 particles/L. Anthropo-
genic debris was found in each brand of beer and salt. Of the extracted particles, over 99%
were fibers. After adjusting for particles found in lab blanks for both salt and beer, the aver-
age number of particles found in beer was 4.05 particles/L with a range of 0 to 14.3 particles/
L and the average number of particles found in each brand of salt was 212 particles/kg with
a range of 46.7 to 806 particles/kg. Based on consumer guidelines, our results indicate the
average person ingests over 5,800 particles of synthetic debris from these three sources
annually, with the largest contribution coming from tap water (88%).
Introduction
The first peer-reviewed papers to document plastic pollution in the natural world were pub-
lished over 45 years ago [1,2]. Since then, a robust body of work has accumulated, and the
ubiquity of synthetic polymers in the environment is now undisputed. From abandoned gill-
nets hundreds of meters in length to plankton sized fragments, synthetic polymers have been
extracted from remote corners of the Earth’s biosphere. Plastics have been quantified in
marine environments [3] that include segments of the pelagic biome [4] coastal habitats [5],
deep sea sediments [6,7], as well as freshwater lakes [8,9] and associated tributaries [10].
PLOS ONE | https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0194970 April 11, 2018 1 / 18
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OPEN ACCESS
Citation: Kosuth M, Mason SA, Wattenberg EV
(2018) Anthropogenic contamination of tap water,
beer, and sea salt. PLoS ONE 13(4): e0194970.
https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0194970
Editor: Zhi Zhou, Purdue University, UNITED
STATES
Received: October 17, 2017
Accepted: March 14, 2018
Published: April 11, 2018
Copyright: ©2018 Kosuth et al. This is an open
access article distributed under the terms of the
Creative Commons Attribution License, which
permits unrestricted use, distribution, and
reproduction in any medium, provided the original
author and source are credited.
Data Availability Statement: Data for the study,
Anthropogenic contamination of tap water, beer,
and sea salt, can be found here: https://dataverse.
harvard.edu/dataset.xhtml?persistentId=doi:10.
7910/DVN/IFCKDL.
Funding: Funding for this study was provided by
the James W. Wright Scholarship which was
provided by the University of Minnesota’s School
of Public Health, Division of Environmental Health
Sciences. This scholarship was awarded to Mary
Kosuth in 2016.
Competing interests: The authors have declared
that no competing interests exist.
Particles have also turned up in Arctic sea ice [11], ambient air [12], and a plethora of biota
such as seabirds [13,14], aquatic mammals [15], fish [16], and benthic invertebrates [17].
The last 45 years have also seen a commensurate increase in plastic production as the total
global output of 30 million tons in 1970 climbed to 322 million tons in 2015 [18]. Hopes of
closing the loop on the plastic waste stream depend on overall recycling rates, which vary
widely across the globe, even among developed nations with well-established recycling infra-
structure. Europe, for example, recycled 26% of disposable plastics in 2012, while the United
States (US) reported rates as low as 8.8% in the same year [19].
The heterogeneous nature of microplastics make them a challenge to study. Although they
are referred to in the literature as synthetic polymers derived from petrochemicals that are less
than 5 mm in length, a universally accepted definition does not exist. Plastics in general repre-
sent a wide range of materials, each with unique physical characteristics and chemical compo-
sitions. Roughly 90% of plastic produced globally, however, falls into one of six categories:
HDPE, LDPE, PP, PVC, PS, and PET [20].
Plastics are hydrophobic and have been known to adsorb chemicals from the environment
such as PCBs, PBDEs, and PAHs [21], some of which are known reproductive toxicants and
carcinogens [22,23,24]. Plastic can also adsorb metals [25] and bacteria [26], sometimes at
concentrations many times higher than their immediate surroundings [27]. Furthermore,
there is evidence that once ingested some of these organic chemicals can desorb in the guts of
animals [28]. Plastics can also leach synthetic additives, such as phthalates, alkylphenols, and
bisphenol A [29]. A more recent study indicates that plastics can be cytotoxic to human cells
[30]. Finally, plastic debris can serve as a unique microhabitat for marine organisms [31,32]
and aid in the transport of invasive species [33]. These known issues highlight why microplas-
tics are considered a contaminant of emerging concern [34,35,36].
While evidence of plastic pollution in the natural world quickly mounts, few studies focus
on synthetic polymer contamination in human consumables. A 2014 publication reported syn-
thetic polymers in 24 brands of German beer [37]. Another study published the following year
found microplastics in 15 brands of Chinese commercial salt sourced from lakes, mines, and
coastal seas [38]. Two more studies of salt emerged in 2017; one reported the presence of plas-
tic particles in globally sourced commercial salt [39] while the other found plastic particles in
Spanish table salt [40]. Anthropogenic debris was also found in both fish and bivalves that
were purchased in markets, intended for human consumption [35]. The known accumulation
of anthropogenic debris in global water bodies makes contamination of human consumables
sourced from those water bodies very likely. This study and others that predate it, seek to pro-
vide evidence of this contamination.
Our study focused on three common human consumables: beer, sea salt, and tap water.
One objective of this study was to determine if the findings from previous studies [32,33,34,
35] regarding beer and salt are regional anomalies or pieces of a larger, global food and bever-
age contamination issue. For this reason, we analyzed contamination of beer and salt products
purchased within the US [33,34,35]. We specifically analyzed beers brewed from water
sourced from the Laurentian Great Lakes because of the known prominence of plastic pollu-
tion within those bodies of water. Internationally sourced salts purchased in the city of Minne-
apolis were chosen because when it comes to products such as salt, local markets often sell
globally sourced products.
Another major objective of this study was to begin surveying contamination of drinking
water. To the authors’ knowledge, no survey of anthropogenic debris in tap water has ever
been published. We analyzed 159 water samples collected from fourteen countries. The sam-
ples, provided by Orb Media, span seven geographical regions from five continents. Approxi-
mately half of the samples came from developed countries and the other half from developing
Anthropogenic contamination of tap water, beer, and sea salt
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countries. The samples, representing both rural and urban communities, were subjected to dif-
ferent filtering methods and were used for different purposes. This broad survey provides an
indication of whether the levels of contamination differ between developing and developed
nations, and serves as a foundation for future studies that can focus on more specific questions
regarding tap water contamination.
Materials and methods
Sample collection
Tap water. Tap water samples (n = 159 total; Table 1) were collected between January
and April of 2017 from the following 14 countries: Cuba (n = 1), Ecuador (n = 24), England
(n = 3), France (n = 1), Germany (n = 2), India (n = 17), Indonesia (n = 21), Ireland (n = 1),
Italy (n = 1), Lebanon (n = 16), Slovakia (n = 8), Switzerland (n = 2), Uganda (n = 26), and the
US (n = 36). Some of these samples were collected by Orb Media’s institutional partners, three
of which were professional scientific service organizations, namely Difaf in Beirut, Lebanon,
EarthGreen in Quito, Ecuador, and ToxicsLink in Delhi, India and two of which were non-sci-
entific partners, namely Jibu in Kampala, Uganda, and Klirkom in Jakarta, Indonesia. The rest
of the samples were collected by Orb Media staff members and volunteers stationed around
the world. Three of the US samples were obtained as bottled water.
Most samples (n = 156; 98%) were collected by running the tap water source for 1 minute
prior to filling a 500mL HDPE bottle to the point of overflowing. While leaving the water run-
ning, the bottle was filled twice and dumped twice before being filled a third time and capped.
This was done to rinse the bottle prior to the final sample collection. A survey was filled out for
each water sample, which included the sample collector’s name and contact information, day
and time of collection, and information about the source and general use of the water taken
(Table 1). The survey form was then mailed to Orb Media, who tracked the samples, while the
water sample itself was sent to the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis for processing. Three
Table 1. General information about the 159 tap water samples analyzed in this study.
Country City(ies) No.
Samples
Filtered at
residence?
Cuba Havana 1 No
Ecuador Quito 24 No
England London 3 No
France Paris 1 No
Germany Berlin(1); Tubingen(1) 2 No
India New Delhi 17 Yes(4); No(13)
Indonesia Depok City (1); Desa Puspanegara(1); Jakarta(10); Jatirahayu (1); Kedaung(1); Menteng(1); North Paninggilan(1);
Pasireurih(1); South Tangerang City(1); Sukatani(1); Teluknaga(1); Warnasari(1)
21 Yes(1); No(20)
Ireland Dublin 1 No
Italy Pavia 1 No
Lebanon Beirut(11); Burj el Brajneh (1); Choueifat (1); Ghobayreh(1); Khaldeh(1); Mreijeh(1) 16 No
Slovakia Brezova
´pod Bradlom(2); Kočovce(1); Pies
ˇt
ˇany(1); Poprad(1); Pras
ˇ
´k(1); Rados
ˇina(1); Ruz
ˇomberok(1) 8 No
Switzerland Davos Platz(1); Gerbertingen(1) 2 No
Uganda Jinja(1); Kampala(25) 26 Yes(2); No(24)
USA Alpena(1); Buffalo(1); Chicago(3); Clayton(1); Duluth(1); Glenview(1); Holland(1); Lawrence (1); Los Angeles(3);
Louisville(1); Mahopack(1); Middle Village(1); New York City(6); Overland Park(1); Palmetto Bay(1); Pinebluff(1);
Spring(1); Washington DC(6); Wauwatosa(1)
33 Yes(6); No(26)
USA Bottled Water 3 Yes
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Anthropogenic contamination of tap water, beer, and sea salt
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of the 159 total samples (2%) were obtained as bottled water by Orb Media staff. These samples
were poured directly from the water bottle into identical 500 mL HDPE bottles immediately
after opening and mailed in a fashion identical to the other tap water samples. Because the
water samples, identified only through a unique sample ID number, were tracked by one orga-
nization and processed by another organization they were processed ‘blind’ without any pre-
conceptions about the tap water source.
Statistical analysis. The data for each country was expressed as a mean with standard
deviation. We also compared the mean of all developed nations to the mean of all developing
nations. Averages of developed countries were compared to developing countries using a
Welch t-test.
Beer. Twelve brands of beer were purchased between January and April of 2017. All of the
beer manufacturers used municipal water (representing a total of nine municipalities) drawn
from one of the five Laurentian Great Lakes. Each brewery was reached by phone or email to
confirm their water source. The water treatment facility for each of the nine municipalities was
also reached by phone to confirm their water source. Three breweries drew water from Lake
Superior, four from Lake Michigan, one from Lake Huron, two from Lake Erie, and two from
Lake Ontario (Table 2). Seven brands of beer were purchased from Minneapolis, Minnesota
liquor stores, two were purchased directly from breweries in Duluth, Minnesota, and the
remaining three were purchased in Alpena, Michigan and Rochester, New York. All beers
were packaged in 12- or 16-fluid-ounce aluminum cans, 12-fluid-ounce glass bottles, 64-fluid-
ounce glass growlers, or 32-fluid-ounce glass howlers (Table 2).
Tap water samples from seven of the nine municipalities represented within the 12 beer
brands analyzed were obtained as part of the tap water study above, following the same sam-
pling guidelines discussed. These samples were obtained specifically to investigate any possible
correlation between the number of particles found in the tap water supply and those found in
beer.
Sea salt. Twelve brands of sea salt were purchased in August of 2016 from six grocery
stores and specialty shops in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Brands were selected based on their
region of origin, which was detailed on each product’s label (Table 3). Effort was made to select
brands sourced from different regions of the world. Ten brands were sourced from oceans
(n = 4) and seas (n = 6), while two came from salt mines. Six salt brands were packaged in plas-
tic bags, two were packaged in stiff cardboard cylinders, two in glass jars, and two in plastic
containers (Table 3).
Table 2. General information about the 12 beers analyzed for this study.
WATER SOURCE/ BEER ID CONTAINER MATERIAL OZ PRODUCT/CONTAINER # OF LOTS
Lake Superior 1 Glass 2–64 fl oz growlers 1
Lake Superior 2 Glass 2–64 fl oz growlers 1
Lake Superior 3 Aluminum 9–12 oz cans - - -
Lake Michigan 1 Glass 9–12 oz bottles 3
Lake Michigan 2 Glass 9–12 oz bottles 1
Lake Michigan 3 Aluminum 7–16 oz cans 3
Lake Michigan 4 Glass 9–12 oz bottles 3
Lake Huron 1 Aluminum 9–12 oz cans 6
Lake Erie 1 Glass 9–12 oz bottles 5
Lake Erie 2 Glass 9–12 oz bottles 2
Lake Ontario 1 Glass 3–32 fl oz howlers 1
Lake Ontario 2 Aluminum 7–16 oz cans - - -
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Anthropogenic contamination of tap water, beer, and sea salt
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Sample processing
Tap water. Tap water samples (n = 159) were processed for anthropogenic particles using
a method similar to that used by Liebezeit et al. (2014) [15], briefly described below. Since the
samples were collected by volunteers, the volumes of the samples varied (ranging from 457 to
603 ml, with a mean of 551 ml) and as such, volumes were recorded prior to vacuum filtration
through a 55 mm diameter Whatman cellulose filter with a pore size of 2.5 μm. To ensure
complete evacuation, sample bottles were rinsed three times with deionized water, with the
rinse water being passed through the same filter as the original sample. After each water sam-
ple was filtered and rinsed in triplicate, the filtrate was itself passed through a second new filter
and cleaned glassware. This second filtration was carried out to examine the possible ‘break
through’ of contaminants. For example, given the small diameter of synthetic fibers, it is possi-
ble that they could pass through a filter even if their length was prohibitive. Any particles
found in the second filtration were added to the particles found in the corresponding sample.
In order to aid the visualization of anthropogenic (synthetic) debris, 2 ml of the biological
stain Rose Bengal, at a concentration of 200 mg/L, was applied to each filter with an eyedrop-
per. Filters were visually analyzed using a dissection microscope (Leica EZ4W, 8-35X Zoom,
Integrated 5MP Camera). Particles not stained by the Rose Bengal were agitated with a stain-
less steel micro spatula to test each particle’s durability. Each piece that was able to endure this
test without breaking apart was identified as anthropogenic debris [15] and was measured, cat-
alogued, and photographed at 35X. To determine fiber length, a metric ruler was used to
demark measurements on the stainless steel spatula that was also used to test the resiliency of
found fibers. Fiber length was enumerated based on measurement of the fiber to these demar-
cations. While fiber color is somewhat subjective, broad categories were used to limit subjec-
tivity based upon the observer. All filters were stored in individual Petri dishes for possible
future analysis.
It is important to note that while particles not stained by the Rose Bengal were classified
and referred to as “microplastic” in Liebezeit et al. (2014) [15], we are choosing to use the
more general term “anthropogenic debris.” Given that Rose Bengal is a biological stain and
thus should bind to natural materials/fibers, it is logical to assume that the particles found are
at least synthetic and most likely could be classified as microplastics, but as spectroscopic anal-
yses such as fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) are required in order to confirm
this assumption, we use the more general term throughout this report.
Table 3. General information about the 12 salts analyzed in this study.
SALT ID SOURCE CONTAINER SIZE CONTAINER MATERIAL
North Sea Salt Seas 240 g 1 plastic bag
Celtic Sea Salt 1 Seas 453 g 1 plastic bag
Celtic Sea Salt 2 Seas 227 g 1 plastic bag
Sicilian Sea Salt Seas 102 g 2 glass jars
Mediterranean Sea Salt 1 Seas 750 g 1 plastic cylinder (PP)
Mediterranean Sea Salt 2 Seas 750 g 1 cardboard cylinder
Utah Sea Salt Mined 283 g 1 plastic cylinder (PET)
Himalayan Rock Salt Mined 500 g 1 glass jar
Hawaiian Sea Salt Ocean 340 g 1 plastic bag
Baja Sea Salt Ocean 454 g 1 plastic bag
Atlantic Sea Salt Ocean 907 g 1 plastic "biodegradable" bag
Pacific Sea Salt Ocean 737 g 1 cardboard cylinder
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Although the pore size of the filter used for tap water (2.5 μm) is smaller than the pore size
of the filter used for beer and salt (11 μm) (see below), the mean number of particles were simi-
lar, the mean density was similar, and the fiber sizes were similar between beer and water, indi-
cating that the difference in pore size did not limit the detection of particles. It is possible that
the different pore size affected filtering time, but not in a significant way.
Beer. Beer samples were processed using a method similar to that used for tap water
described above. Exactly 1 L of beer was measured and vacuum-filtered through a 70-mm-
diameter Whatman cellulose filter with a pore size of 11 μm. Again, sample bottles and cans
were rinsed three times with deionized water, which was passed through the same filter. Filters
were treated with 6 ml of a 200 mg/L concentration of Rose Bengal, the same biological stain
used in the tap water study, before they were visually analyzed under a dissection microscope.
Particles that were able to endure the test of durability were measured using the same tools
and methods described in the water study, catalogued, and photographed at 35X. All filters
were stored in individual Petri dishes for possible future analysis.
Tap water samples collected for comparison to the beer samples (seven samples from the
nine municipalities represented within the 12 beer brands) were processed in the same manner
as the tap water samples above.
Sea salt. Sea salt samples were processed using a method similar to that used for the
beer samples described above. Exactly 50 g of a salt was measured and dissolved in 1 L of
millipore deionized water before it was vacuum-filtered through a 70-mm-diameter What-
man cellulose filter with a pore size of 11 μm. The volumetric flask was rinsed three times
with deionized water, which was passed through the same filter. Filters were stained with 6
ml of Rose Bengal at a 200 mg/L concentration before they were visually analyzed with a dis-
section microscope. Particles that were able to endure the test of durability were measured,
using the same tools and methods described in the water and beer study, catalogued, and
photographed at 35X. All filters were stored in individual Petri dishes for possible future
analysis.
Quality assurance and quality control
In order to prevent/reduce potential contamination throughout the sample processing from
external sources, such as airborne fibers, all glassware was covered with a watch glass when not
in use and washed thoroughly between trials. Work occurred in a laminar airflow cabinet, and
the workspace was wiped down every week. Filters were inspected under a microscope prior to
use. Filtration times were recorded so that the window of time for potential contamination
was known. Finally, a cotton lab coat and sterling nitrile powder free exam gloves were worn
throughout the experimental procedure.
To further account for contamination, two different types of lab blanks were processed. For
the tap water samples alone, bottle blanks were run by filling two empty 500 mL HDPE bottles
with deionized water in the lab, just as the tap water samples themselves had been collected.
Additionally, for all three studies (tap water, beer and sea salt) lab blanks containing only
deionized water were run. These blanks were called deionized blanks and were carried out to
account for background lab contamination from atmospheric deposition, deionized water,
and glassware. For the tap water study, deionized blanks were run once each day that samples
were processed (n = 30), while for the beer and salt studies one blank was processed for each
brand (n = 12 for each; n = 24 total). The bottles and deionized blanks were processed in a
manner identical to the samples themselves in order to account for possible anthropogenic
contamination that could be coming from the either the collection receptacle or testing
environment.
Anthropogenic contamination of tap water, beer, and sea salt
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Results
Quality control: Laboratory blanks
Of the 30 total deionized blanks processed as part of the tap water study (one each day that
water samples were processed) 5 had one anthropogenic particle in it and the others had none.
For the beer study a total of 12 deionized blanks were run yielding 6 with one anthropogenic
particle, 1 with two particles, 1 with three particles, and the remaining 4 containing no parti-
cles. Of the 12 deionized blanks run for each brand of salt, 5 had one anthropogenic particle, 1
had two particles, 1 had three particles, 1 had four particles, 1 had five particles, and the
remaining 3 had no particles. Fig 1 illustrates the averages and standard deviations of these
results in comparison to the samples themselves.
In summary, of the 54 total deionized water blanks processed over the course of the experi-
ments, 11 contained one particle, 7 contained two particles, 2 contained three particles, 1 con-
tained four particles, and 1 contained five particles, while the remaining 32 (60%) contained
zero particles. In total the deionized blanks indicate that there was little to no background lab-
oratory contamination within the samples processed. Nevertheless, in order to be conservative,
counts obtained within lab blanks were subtracted from the total for each sample as explained
in more detail below.
Tap water
During the first four months of 2017, tap water samples were collected from 14 countries
worldwide, representing seven distinct regions. Samples were processed individually with the
number of anthropogenic particles per sample calculated as the sum of the number of particles
within the first and second filtration less the number of particles found within that day’s deion-
ized blank. Given some variability in sample volume, the density of anthropogenic particle
contamination was calculated as the number of particles per liter of water (particle/L) in order
to standardize the samples.
Anthropogenic debris was found in 81% of the 159 samples tested. The range of anthropo-
genic particles within all tap water samples was 0 to 61 particles/L, with an overall mean of
Fig 1. Summary of laboratory blanks. Averages of laboratory blanks processed as part of tap water (n = 30), beer
(n = 12) and salt (n = 12) studies. Error bars indicate the standard deviation of the results.
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5.45 particles/L. The highest mean for any country was found in the US with 9.24 particles/L
while the four lowest means were from European Union (EU) nations. (Table 4). Three brands
of bottled water were also included in the study. The average for these non-municipal water
sources was 3.57 particles/L, which was less than the overall average. Interestingly, when the
mean of all developing countries was compared with the mean of all the developed countries, a
statistically significant difference (p = 0.025) was found between the two groups. Water
sourced from more developed nations (EU, US, and Lebanon) had an average density of 6.85
particles/L, while water sourced from less developed nations (Cuba, Ecuador, India, Indonesia,
Uganda) had an average density of 4.26 particles/L.
Of the 539 particles found, the vast majority (98.3%) were identified as fibers, and the
remaining particles were identified as fragments (n = 7) or films (n = 2) (Fig 2). The fibers var-
ied in length from 0.10–5.00 mm, with an average of 0.96 mm. Of the 159 water samples, 66
(41.5%) had one or more particles, specifically fibers, in the second filtration step, indicating
the difficulty of complete fiber removal via filtration. These particles had an average length of
0.85 mm, which is 0.11 mm smaller than the particles found in the samples as a whole. Of the
539 particles found, the most common color was blue, followed by red/pink, and brown (Fig
3). We felt it important to take note of particle color as some studies have indicated that
aquatic organisms may preferentially ingest certain colors of debris over others. It may also be
useful in determining source of debris.
Beer
Anthropogenic debris was found in all 12 brands of beer that were tested. For each brand,
three separate, one-liter samples were processed. One of the three samples was selected at ran-
dom to be filtered a second time. It was assumed that particles from the second filtration were
breakthrough particles and therefore added to the sample total. The number of particles per
liter was then calculated as the average of the three samples less the number of particles found
Table 4. Summary of tap water results.
Particles Per Liter
a
COUNTRY/SOURCE NO. SAMPLES MINIMUM MAXMUM MEAN STD. DEV.
Cuba 1 - - - - - - 7.17 -- -
Ecuador 24 0 9.04 4.02 3.20
England 3 3.66 13.0 7.73 4.76
France 1 - - - - - - 1.82 -- -
Germany 2 0 1.82 0.91 1.29
India 17 0 20.0 6.24 6.41
Indonesia 21 0 10.8 3.23 3.48
Ireland 1 -- - - - - 1.83 - - -
Italy 1 - - - - - - 0
b
- - -
Lebanon 16 0 23.3 6.64 6.38
Slovakia 8 0 10.9 3.83 4.47
Switzerland 2 0 5.47 2.74 3.87
Uganda 26 0 12.7 3.92 3.17
USA 33 0 60.9 9.24 11.8
Bottled Water 3 1.78 5.37 3.57 1.79
a
For countries with only one sample, the density of anthropogenic debris is provided as the mean with no values given for min., max., or standard deviation.
b
While anthropogenic debris was found within this sample, the sample itself had less than the deionized blank and, thus, its value is listed as zero.
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in the corresponding deionized blank in order to present the most conservative numbers and
account for possible laboratory contamination. For one brand, the three-trial average was less
than the number found in the deionized blank and, thus, the final sample number was listed as
zero. Brand averages ranged from 0 to 14.3 particles/L with an overall mean of 4.05 particles/L
(Table 5).
Of the 189 particles identified, the vast majority (98.4%) were classified as fibers while the
remaining particles (n = 3) were identified as fragments (Fig 4). The average length of each
fiber was 0.98 mm with a range from 0.1 to 5 mm. Of the 12 beer samples, 9 had one or more
particle in the second filtration step for a total of 17 particles. The average length of the fibers
found in the second filtration was 0.72 mm, about 0.26 mm smaller than the length of the
fibers identified within the samples as a whole. Of the 189 particles, the most common color
was blue, followed by red/pink, and brown, exactly in-line with that found within the tap
water study (Fig 5).
As discussed in the Methods section, in seven of the nine municipalities representing the 12
beers analyzed, tap water samples were also obtained and processed in order to assess any cor-
relation between the two (Table 6). While both the municipal tap water and the beers analyzed
all contained anthropogenic particles, there seemed to be no correlation between the two
Fig 2. Tap water particles. Examples of anthropogenic particles found in tap water: (A) Fragment, 1 mm in length
from Indian subcontinent; (B) Fiber, 2.5 mm in length from U.S. tap water sample.
https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0194970.g002
Fig 3. Tap water particle colors. Color distribution of anthropogenic particles extracted from 159 samples of tap
water.
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Table 5. Summary of beer results.
Particles Per Liter
WATER SOURCE/ BEER ID MINIMUM MAXMUM MEAN STD. DEV.
Lake Superior 1 1 3 0.67 1.15
Lake Superior 2 1 9 4.33 4.00
Lake Superior 3 4 4 3.33 0.00
Lake Michigan 1 2 3 1.33 0.58
Lake Michigan 2 0 2 0.00 1.15
Lake Michigan 3 10 16 14.3 3.21
Lake Michigan 4 0 3 2.33 1.52
Lake Huron 1 1 2 1.33 0.58
Lake Erie 1 1 2 2.00 0.58
Lake Erie 2 3 9 3.00 3.46
Lake Ontario 1 8 9 8.00 0.58
Lake Ontario 2 4 12 8.00 4.36
https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0194970.t005
Fig 4. Beer particles. Examples of anthropogenic particles found in beer: (A) Fiber, 0.75 mm in length from brewery
drawing water from Lake Ontario; (B) Fiber, 1 mm in length from brewery drawing water from Lake Erie.
https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0194970.g004
Fig 5. Beer particle colors. Color distribution of anthropogenic particles extracted from 12 brands of beer.
https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0194970.g005
Anthropogenic contamination of tap water, beer, and sea salt
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(r = 0.016), which would seem to indicate that any contamination within the beer is not just
from the water used to brew the beer itself.
Sea salt
Anthropogenic debris was found in all 12 brands of commercial sea salt that were tested. As
with beer, each brand was processed three times, and one of the samples was selected at ran-
dom to be filtered a second time with the particles from the second filtration added to the sam-
ple. An average of the three trials for each brand was taken, and then the number of particles
found in the corresponding deionized blank was subtracted from this average in order to
report the most conservative numbers. Brand averages ranged from 46.7 to 806 particles/kg,
with an overall mean of 212 particles/kg (Table 7).
Among all samples analyzed, a total of 461 anthropogenic particles were identified. The vast
majority (99.3%) of these were classified as fibers, while the remaining particles (n = 3) were
identified as fragments (Fig 6). The average length of each fiber was 1.09 mm with a range of
0.1 mm to 5 mm. Five particles greater than 5 mm were omitted. Of the 12 salt samples, 8 had
one or more particle in the second filtration step for a total of 23 particles. The average length
of the particles found in the second filtration was 1.05 mm, about 0.04 mm smaller than the
particles found in the samples as a whole. Similar to the tap water and beer results, the most
common particulate color was blue, followed by red/pink, and then clear (Fig 7).
Table 6. Tap v. Beer particle counts. Comparison of anthropogenic particle count in beer and its corresponding
municipal tap water.
Municipality No. Particles in Tap Water Average No. Particles in Beer
Duluth, Minnesota 1 2.76
Milwaukee, Wisconsin 3 1.30
Chicago, Illinois 2 14.3
Holland, Michigan 2 2.30
Alpena, Michigan 1 1.30
Buffalo, New York 1 3.00
Clayton, New York 1 8.00
https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0194970.t006
Table 7. Summary of sea salt results.
Particles Per 50g Particles Per Kilogram
SALT ID MINIMUM MAXIMUM MEAN STD. DEV
North Sea Salt 0 7 66.6 3.61
Celtic Sea Salt 1 4 7 113 1.53
Celtic Sea Salt 2 4 20 187 8.19
Sicilian Sea Salt 9 13 220 2.31
Mediterranean Sea Salt 1 4 10 133 3.06
Mediterranean Sea Salt 2 3 11 133 4.16
Utah Sea Salt 4 8 113 2.08
Himalayan Rock Salt 13 37 367 12.7
Hawaiian Sea Salt 4 5 46.7 0.58
Baja Sea Salt 6 13 173 3.79
Atlantic Sea Salt 6 14 180 4.16
Pacific Sea Salt 22 51 806 15.3
https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0194970.t007
Anthropogenic contamination of tap water, beer, and sea salt
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Discussion
Tap water
To the authors’ knowledge, this is the first survey of anthropogenic contamination of tap water
to be conducted. Nearly all (81%) of the globally sourced samples for this study had anthropo-
genic particulate contamination far in excess of the background levels detected in the deion-
ized blanks, 17% of which contained a single particle. When comparing anthropogenic
contamination in tap water by region, North America, which includes samples from the US
(n = 33) and Cuba (n = 1), had the highest mean density of anthropogenic debris at 9.18 parti-
cles/L. The lowest regional mean density of 3.60 particles/L was found in the seven EU nations
of England, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Slovakia, and Switzerland (n = 18). Although
England had the second highest mean of any country tested, it was only represented by only
three samples. Of all the countries tested, the US not only had the largest sample size, it also
involved samples collected from the largest geographical region (2,700 miles east to west and
1,800 miles north to south). Finally, the US dataset is unique because it includes water samples
collected from municipalities that are both densely populated (8.5 million residents) and
Fig 6. Sea salt particles. Examples of anthropogenic particles found in sea salt: (A) Fiber, 1 mm in length from Pacific
Ocean sourced sea salt; (B) Fiber, 1.5 mm in length from Atlantic Ocean sourced sea salt.
https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0194970.g006
Fig 7. Sea salt particle colors. Color distribution of anthropogenic particles extracted from12 brands of sea salt.
https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0194970.g007
Anthropogenic contamination of tap water, beer, and sea salt
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sparsely populated (5,000 residents). This stands in contrast to the samples from Ecuador,
where all 24 samples were collected from the capital city.
As stated above, there was a surprising difference in the density of anthropogenic debris
when comparing developed and developing nations. A higher density might be expected in
developing regions that do not necessarily have municipal waste disposal and water filtration
systems. However, the more developed countries together had a shared mean that was signifi-
cantly higher than the developing countries. Variables such as the water source (well, surface,
snowmelt), regional human population density, and water filtering methods could potentially
explain this difference, but further comparative research is needed.
Although the mean density of anthropogenic debris found in bottled water was lower than
the overall mean, each of the three brands was found to contain at least one particle of debris.
However, the entire dataset comprised only three brands. A more expansive study of bottled
water is necessary, complete with water sources and manufacturing processes.
As this is the first global survey of anthropogenic contamination of tap water, the results of
this study serve as an initial glimpse rather than a comprehensive assessment. Given the ubiq-
uity of contamination, these results are really a call for further studies within and between
regions. Future studies will be designed with sampling strategies that are based on specific
objectives. For example, they may focus on assessments within the water treatment process in
order to better understand potential pathways of contamination. Additionally, studies could
focus on different types of water sources (ground v. surface), as well as different filtration
methods (reverse osmosis, mixed media, etc.), to provide insight into best practices.
According to the National Academy of Medicine, women and men should consume 2.2 L
and 3 L of beverage per day, respectively. If these beverages consist of tap water, or drinks
derived from tap water (such as coffee, tea, or reconstituted juice), a woman may consume as
many as 12 anthropogenic particles a day, while a man could consume up to 16. These daily
doses add up to an annual total of nearly 4,400 particles for women and over 5,800 particles for
men. These anthropogenic particle counts are in addition to those potentially consumed in
other products, such as beer, sea salt and seafood [41].
Beer
While the tap water study represents the first of its kind, our beer study was intentionally
aligned with that of Liebezeit et al. (2014) [32] but focused on Laurentian Great Lakes (USA)
beers as opposed to beers from Germany. While this prior study reported 2 to 79 fibers/L of
beer with an overall mean of 22.6 particles/L, our study had a narrower range, 0 to 14.3 parti-
cles/L, and a lower overall mean (4.05 particles/L). The most significant divergence between
our studies, however, is that little other than fibers were found in the Great Lakes beers. The
German beers, on the other hand, had 12 to 109 fragments/L and 2 to 66 granules/L in addi-
tion to the fibers. These differences may be attributable to varying brewing customs and regu-
lations in Germany as compared to the US. In fact, a significant amount of variation in
processing exists within the U.S. alone. In order to increase shelf life, national brands tend to
filter their beers more thoroughly, while locally distributed craft beers may modify or forgo
this step completely because they feel it affects the overall experience [42].
Even though the average number of particles found in beer (4.05 particles/L) was similar to
the average number of particles found in tap water (5.45 particles/L), not even a weak correla-
tion could be drawn when comparing the results from specific beer brands to their corre-
sponding municipal tap water supply. In fact, the highest and lowest counts in this study
came from two beers that were brewed in the same city using the same municipal water supply.
This indicates that product processing may be integral to understanding anthropogenic
Anthropogenic contamination of tap water, beer, and sea salt
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contamination. The brand with the highest count has breweries in several states. Interestingly,
the first beer samples processed in January were a different style of beer from the same com-
pany, but they were brewed in Colorado. The data for that beer were not included in our study
because it did not fulfill the requirement of having its water drawn from the Great Lakes, but
the mean for that beer (15.7 particles/L) was also very high. Future research efforts could focus
on a particular facility, sampling at multiple locations throughout the process, in an effort to
identify the source of contaminants.
It should be noted that most of the beers selected for this study were pilsners. This was
intentional as wheat beers and stouts tended to clog the filters and considerably lengthen the
filtration times. If there is a significant difference in the brewing process for various styles of
beer, it may affect the outcome of the results and future research efforts could focus on under-
standing any potential differences in contamination among varieties.
In reviewing the results, it is clear that the pore size of the filter did not play a role in either
the density or the size of particles detected (>100 μm) found in the samples. Although the
average length of the particle found in tap water was the smallest (0.96 mm) it was only larger
by two hundredths of a millimeter when compared to the average length of particle found in
beer (0.98 mm) and approximately one tenth of a millimeter when compared to the average
length of particle found in salt (1.09 mm).
In order to give an indication of how many anthropogenic particles a person might con-
sume in a year, we conducted a similar exposure analysis with beer, using averages, as we did
with water. According to the average number of particles found in the 12 brands tested in this
investigation, an individual consuming a single 12-fluid-ounce beer once a day could be
ingesting nearly 520 particles annually. Since a slight range was found between brands, this
annual ingestion could be negligible or as high as 1,800 particles.
Sea salt
Unlike beer, there was more overlap in the ranges between the results of this investigation and
the results of prior published studies on salt (Table 8). For example, Yang et al. (2015) [33]
found 550 to 681 particles/kg in Chinese sea salts, while the present study found a much larger
range, 46.7 to 806 particles/kg. The 2015 study also reported 7 to 204 particles/kg in Chinese
rock/well salts, which was similar to the present results, 113 to 367 particles/kg, but with an
overall lower count. It should be noted that only two brands of salt in this study came from
inland mines, while Yang et al. (2015) [31] included five brands in this category. Slightly less
than half of the particles found in the Chinese study were fibers, whereas 99.3% of the particles
found in the present study were fibers.
A 2017 study conducted by Iniguez et al. [35] tested 21 brands of Spanish sea salt, and simi-
lar to our findings, reported mainly fibers. This previous study also reported a range of 50 to
280 particles/kg, which is very similar to the lower range shown in our study.
Table 8. Comparison of four salt studies.
Particles Per Kilogram Fiber Characteristics
REFERENCE # BRANDS (OCEAN+SEA:MINED) MINIMUM MAXIMUM MEAN PARTICLE % SIZE RANGE (mm) SIZE MEAN (mm)
Yang et al. (2015) 15 (7:5) 7 681 NR
a
majority 0.05–4.3 NR
a
Iniguez et al. (2017) 21 (16:5) 50 280 128 majority 0.03–3.5 NR
a
Kamari et al. (2017) 17 (17:0) 0 10 1.76 25.60% 0.16–0.98 0.52
This Study 12 (10:2) 47 806 212 99.30% 0.10–5.0 1.09
a
NR = Not Reported
https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0194970.t008
Anthropogenic contamination of tap water, beer, and sea salt
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Another 2017 study led by Karami et al. [34] looked at globally sourced table salt. The
results from this study departed most significantly from our findings, with only 72 particles
recovered from 16 brands. Of those suspected particles only 30 were identified through Raman
Spectroscopy as true plastic. Another interesting difference is that only 25.6% of the polymers
found in the Karami et al. study were classified as ‘filaments,’ which differs greatly from the
99.3% of fibers found in this study.
Again, in order to indicate how many anthropogenic particles a person might consume
annually, we conducted an exposure analysis with salt, using averages, just as we did with beer
and water. The World Health Organization recommends no more than 5,000 mg of salt daily,
but the U.S. Center for Disease Control advises no more than 2,300 mg. Our calculations are
based on the more conservative recommendation, since salt is something that often comes in
processed and packaged food, and the salt added to manufactured foods was not represented
in this study. As with beer, if the average among 12 brands is applied, an individual who pur-
chases sea salt at a grocery store and adds it to their foods, could be ingesting an extra 180
anthropogenic particles annually. However, the present study reveals an even larger range
among salt brands than beer brands, which translates into as few as 40 particles to nearly 680
particles per year.
Overall
Based on the results of previous studies, many sizes and varieties of plastic pollution were
expected. The vast majority of the anthropogenic debris found in this study, however, was
fibers. Verification with FTIR has proven problematic, due to the size and dimension of the
fibers. The fact that they were not stained by the Rose Bengal provides supporting evidence
that the anthropogenic debris is not cellulosic and thus more likely to be synthetic/plastic, but
further analysis is necessary for full confirmation.
The most abundant color detected in all three consumables tested was blue and the second
most abundant color detected was pink/red. Although it was not detailed in the results above,
considerable variation in tone was found in both categories. Nevertheless, it is important to
recognize that this could be the result of selection bias. For example, it was difficult to detect
fibers that were clear even after the cellulose filter was stained with Rose Bengal. Clear or light
pink fibers could be undercounted. A significant amount of (assumed) sediment was found in
some brands of commercial salts, but in the absence of FTIR or Raman Spectroscopy these
particles were ignored and not included in our results.
Conclusions
This investigation reveals troubling amounts of anthropogenic debris in global tap water,
North American beer, and internationally sourced (but US purchased) sea salt. Particles were
found in 81% of tap water samples, as well as in all 12 brands of beer and sea salt. These find-
ings add to a growing body of knowledge about plastic pollution in human consumables.
As research efforts continue to explore the prevalence of synthetic polymers in human con-
sumables, it is important that all types of plastics are studied for their ability to adsorb chemi-
cals from the surrounding environment and/or release these and other chemical additives that
are used during the manufacturing process. The majority of the research about chemical leach-
ing and animal ingestion currently focuses on beads and fragments, and there are data gaps in
the research on plastic fibers. Since this study identified such a high proportion of fibers, it is
clear that future ecotoxicology tests should include increasingly prominent secondary plastics,
such as fibers, especially since some of the chemicals found on and in plastics are known
human toxicants.
Anthropogenic contamination of tap water, beer, and sea salt
PLOS ONE | https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0194970 April 11, 2018 15 / 18
Although generating a detailed exposure analysis was not the purpose of this study, we did
extrapolate our numbers from all three products in order to provide some indication of poten-
tial exposure from a combination of three commonly consumed products, beer, salt, and tap
water. Although the number of particles found independently in water, beer, and salt may not
be cause for alarm, the sum of the potential exposure for all three sources combined was esti-
mated at 5,800 particles per year. The potential ubiquity of plastic in our consumer products
raises concern, especially since the highest proportion comes from drinking water (88%), fol-
lowed by beer (9%), and salt (3%). The high proportion from drinking water is of particular
concern because it is difficult to recommend practical strategies for avoiding ingestion. While
sea salt can be reduced and beer can be avoided, drinking water is not something that can or
should be eliminated or restricted, yet tap water is the most prominent source of anthropo-
genic debris among the three consumables analyzed in this study.
Acknowledgments
A portion of this work was funded through the James W. Wright Scholarship provided by the
University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health, Environmental Health Sciences Division.
International tap water samples were provided by Chris Tyree and Dan Morrison of Orb
Media. The authors would also like to thank Matt Simcik and George Maldonado for statistical
assistance, and Martin Cozza for editing.
Author Contributions
Conceptualization: Sherri A. Mason.
Data curation: Mary Kosuth.
Formal analysis: Mary Kosuth.
Funding acquisition: Elizabeth V. Wattenberg.
Investigation: Mary Kosuth.
Methodology: Sherri A. Mason.
Resources: Elizabeth V. Wattenberg.
Supervision: Sherri A. Mason, Elizabeth V. Wattenberg.
Writing – original draft: Mary Kosuth.
Writing – review & editing: Sherri A. Mason, Elizabeth V. Wattenberg.
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PLOS ONE | https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0194970 April 11, 2018 18 / 18
... It has been detected in fishes (Jabeen et al., 2017;Karami et al., 2017a), sharks (Parton et al., 2020), molluscs (Mathalon and Hill, 2014;Rochman et al., 2015), crustaceans (Murray and Cowie, 2011;Devriese et al., 2015) and seaweed (Li et al., 2020). MP contamination has also been reported in various other foods and drinks including rice (Dessi et al., 2021), vegetables (Conti et al., 2020), salt (Yang et al., 2015;Karami et al., 2017b;Iñiguez et al., 2017;Gündoğdu 2018;Kosuth et al., 2018), sugar (Liebezeit and Liebezeit, 2013), honey (Liebezeit and Liebezeit, 2013), bottled waters (Oßmann et al., 2018;Schymanski et al., 2018), tap water (Kosuth et al., 2018), beer (Liebezeit and Liebezeit, 2014;Lachenmeier et al., 2015;Kosuth et al., 2018), soft drinks , energy drinks , tea (Hernandez et al., 2019; and milk . One of the main risks of MP particles as a contaminant is that they can transfer to humans via food and water. ...
... It has been detected in fishes (Jabeen et al., 2017;Karami et al., 2017a), sharks (Parton et al., 2020), molluscs (Mathalon and Hill, 2014;Rochman et al., 2015), crustaceans (Murray and Cowie, 2011;Devriese et al., 2015) and seaweed (Li et al., 2020). MP contamination has also been reported in various other foods and drinks including rice (Dessi et al., 2021), vegetables (Conti et al., 2020), salt (Yang et al., 2015;Karami et al., 2017b;Iñiguez et al., 2017;Gündoğdu 2018;Kosuth et al., 2018), sugar (Liebezeit and Liebezeit, 2013), honey (Liebezeit and Liebezeit, 2013), bottled waters (Oßmann et al., 2018;Schymanski et al., 2018), tap water (Kosuth et al., 2018), beer (Liebezeit and Liebezeit, 2014;Lachenmeier et al., 2015;Kosuth et al., 2018), soft drinks , energy drinks , tea (Hernandez et al., 2019; and milk . One of the main risks of MP particles as a contaminant is that they can transfer to humans via food and water. ...
... It has been detected in fishes (Jabeen et al., 2017;Karami et al., 2017a), sharks (Parton et al., 2020), molluscs (Mathalon and Hill, 2014;Rochman et al., 2015), crustaceans (Murray and Cowie, 2011;Devriese et al., 2015) and seaweed (Li et al., 2020). MP contamination has also been reported in various other foods and drinks including rice (Dessi et al., 2021), vegetables (Conti et al., 2020), salt (Yang et al., 2015;Karami et al., 2017b;Iñiguez et al., 2017;Gündoğdu 2018;Kosuth et al., 2018), sugar (Liebezeit and Liebezeit, 2013), honey (Liebezeit and Liebezeit, 2013), bottled waters (Oßmann et al., 2018;Schymanski et al., 2018), tap water (Kosuth et al., 2018), beer (Liebezeit and Liebezeit, 2014;Lachenmeier et al., 2015;Kosuth et al., 2018), soft drinks , energy drinks , tea (Hernandez et al., 2019; and milk . One of the main risks of MP particles as a contaminant is that they can transfer to humans via food and water. ...
Article
This short article collected, collated, analysed, synthesised, reviewed, interpreted, and documented microplastic (MP) contamination of seafood, other foods, drinks, and environmental waters across the globe. It identified the possible routes of MP contamination. Fishes, as well as, surface waters and sediments were found contaminated with MP across the globe. There has been very limited research on other foods and drinks with reference to MP contamination. Based on those limited research, rice brands (Australia, India, Pakistan, and Thailand), vegetable samples (Mexico), salt samples (Australia, China, France, Iran, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, the USA), sugar samples (Germany), and Honey samples (Germany, France, Italy, Spain, and Mexico) have been contaminated with MPs. Among the drinks, bottled water samples (Germany), tap water samples (Cuba, Ecuador, England, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Lebanon, Slovakia, Switzerland, Uganda, and the USA), beer samples (Germany, Mexico, the USA), soft drink samples (Mexico), energy drink samples (Mexico), cold tea and tea infusions samples (Mexico, Canada), and milk samples (Mexico) were also contaminated with MPs. In a number of food and drink samples, MP contaminant levels were 100% (beer, bottled water, carrot, cold tea, dried fish, fruit, fresh fish, honey, milk, mussel, rice, salt, sediment, surface water, and sugar). Fibres were the dominant MPs detected. MP as well high-risk chemicals/pollutants adsorbed in MPs can be transferred to humans via the consumption of contaminated food and drinks. This article confirmed that MP is an emerging global threat to food and water security. Apart from the risk posed to seafood, other foods, drinks, and environmental waters, MP can threaten the global climate by increasing greenhouse gas emissions (CO2, CH4) from plastic waste and may undermine achieving the UN sustainable development goals. Therefore, attempts should be made to curb the proliferation of plastic pollution by phasing out its use in consumer goods.
... Il est aujourd'hui démontré que les MP sont ubiquistes dans l'environnement. Ils ont été caractérisés dans diverses matrices : eaux de mer [IVAR DO SUL et COSTA, 2014], eaux superficielles [FREE et al., 2014] et karstiques [PANNO et al., 2019], eaux usées [LESLIE et al., 2017], sédiments [SU et al., 2016], air [DRIS et al., 2016], biote [ROCHMAN et al., 2014], eaux embouteillées et eaux du robinet [KOSUTH et al., 2018]. ...
... La directive cadre sur l'eau de 2020 indique que, sous trois ans, devront être déterminées les méthodes de mesure des MP afin de les intégrer ensuite à la liste de vigilance. La problématique de la contamination en MP dans l'eau potable est particulièrement récente puisque le sujet a été étudié pour la première fois en 2018 [KOSUTH et al., 2018]. À notre connaissance, et jusqu'à mars 2021, date à laquelle notre état de l'art a été rédigé, une vingtaine d'études ont été publiées, dont 15 ont objectivé la présence de MP en sortie d'usine de potabilisation ou dans le réseau de distribution (eau de robinets publics ou privés) et cinq dans les eaux embouteillées. ...
... Besides, individuals could also drink MPs through tap and bottled water. Kosuth et al. (2018) investigate the presence of MPs larger than 100 µm in 159 samples of globally sourced tap water and discovered the scale ranging from 0 to 61 items⋅L -1 (with an overall mean of 5.45 items⋅L -1 ). Similarly in the case of bottled water, reported MP contamination in various studies mainly fulled between 10 and 10 3 items⋅L -1 ( Fig. 1 & 2 and Table S1). ...
Article
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Microplastics (MPs; <5 mm) in the biosphere draws public concern about their potential health impacts. Humans are potentially exposed to MPs via ingestion, inhalation, and dermal contact. Ingestion and inhalation are the two major exposure pathways. An adult may consume approximately 5.1×10³ items from table salts and up to 4.1×10⁴ items via drinking water annually. Meanwhile, MP inhalation intake ranges from 0.9×10⁴ to 7.9×10⁴ items per year. The intake of MPs would be further distributed in different tissues and organs of humans depending on their sizes. The excretion has been discussed with the possible clearance ways (e.g., urine and feces). The review summarized the absorption, distribution, metabolic toxicity and excretion of MPs together with the attached chemicals. Moreover, the potential implications on humans are also discussed from in vitro and in vivo studies, and connecting the relationship between the physicochemical properties and the potential risks. This review will contribute to a better understanding of MPs as culprits and/or vectors linking to potential human health hazards, which will help outline the promising areas for further revealing the possible toxicity pathways.
... PET and PP were the most common polymers reported in bottled water (Danopoulos et al., 2020). One survey had reported MPs and NPs from a majority (88 %) of tap water in both developed and developing countries (Kosuth et al., 2018). Furthermore, MPs and NPs were reported in teabags from grocery stores and coffee and tea from cafes in Montreal, Canada (Hernandez et al., 2019), and food stores in Germany (Schymanski et al., 2018). ...
Article
Microplastics (MPs) and nanoplastics (NPs) are emerging environmental pollutants, having a major ecotoxico-logical concern to humans and many other biotas, especially aquatic animals. The physical and chemical compositions of MPs majorly determine their ecotoxicological risks. However, comprehensive knowledge about the exposure routes and toxic effects of MPs/NPs on animals and human health is not fully known. Here this review focuses on the potential exposure routes, human health impacts, and toxicity response of MPs/NPs on human health, through reviewing the literature on studies conducted in different in vitro and in vivo experiments on organisms, human cells, and the human experimental exposure models. The current literature review has highlighted ingestion, inhalation, and dermal contacts as major exposure routes of MPs/NPs. Further, oxidative stress, cytotoxicity, DNA damage, inflammation, immune response, neurotoxicity, metabolic disruption, and ultimately affecting digestive systems, immunology, respiratory systems, reproductive systems, and nervous systems, as serious health consequences.
... Another means of human exposure is encountered when eating cooked food [56]. Microplastics are reported in tap water, beer, salt, and mineral water, and large amounts are detected in meat or cooked food in Thai markets [57][58][59]. Thus, the ingestion of contaminated food will cause human exposure to microplastics found in various aquatic organisms. ...
Article
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The increased use of plastics has led to severe environmental pollution, particularly by microplastics—plastic particles 5 mm or less in diameter. These particles are formed by environmental factors such as weathering and ultraviolet irradiation, thereby making environmental pollution worse. This environmental pollution intensifies human exposure to microplastics via food chains. Despite potential negative effects, few toxicity assessments on microplastics are available. In this study, two sizes of polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) microplastics, approximately 5 μm and 10–50 μm, were manufactured and used for single and four-week repeated toxicity and pharmacokinetic studies. Toxicological effects were comprehensively evaluated with clinical signs, body weight, food and water consumption, necropsy findings, and histopathological and clinical-pathological examinations. Blood collected at 15, 30 60, and 120 min after a single administration of microplastics were analyzed by Raman spectroscopy. In the toxicity evaluation of single and four-week repeated oral administration of PTFE microplastics, no toxic changes were observed. Therefore, the lethal dose 50 (LD50) and no-observed-adverse-effect-level (NOAEL) of PTFE microplastics in ICR mice were established as 2000 mg/kg or more. PTFE microplastics were not detected in blood, so pharmacokinetic parameters could not be calculated. This study provides new insight into the long-term toxicity and pharmacokinetics of PTFE microplastics.
... (MPs) are widespread anthropogenic contaminants that can be found in marine and fresh waters, the atmosphere, the urban environment, and even in food and beverages (Kontrick, 2018;Wayman and Niemann, 2021) including fish, shellfish, honey, sugar, beer, soft drinks, milk and tap and bottled drinking water (Kosuth et al., 2018;Kutralam-Muniasamy et al., 2020;Shruti et al., 2020). In 2020 MPs were defined for a California (USA) senate bill on MPs in drinking water. ...
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Background: Concerns on microplastics (MPs) in food are increasing because of our increased awareness of daily exposure and our knowledge gap on their potential adverse health effects. When particles are ingested, macrophages play an important role in scavenging them, potentially leading to an unwanted immune response. To elucidate the adverse effects of MPs on human health, insights in the immunotoxicity of MPs are essential. Objectives: To assess the effect of environmentally collected ocean and land weathered MP particles on the immunological response of macrophages using a state-of-the art in vitro immunotoxicity assay specifically designed for measuring particle toxicity. Methods: Environmentally-weathered macroplastic samples were collected from the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre and from the French coastal environment. Macroplastics were identified using (micro)Raman-spectrometry, FT-IR and Py-GC-MS and cryo-milled to obtain size-fractionated samples up to 300 μm. Physiochemical MP properties were characterized using phase contrast microscopy, gel-permeation chromatography, nuclear magnetic resonance, and differential scanning colorimetry. Macrophages (differentiated THP-1 cells) were exposed to particles (<300 μm) for 48 h before assessment of cell viability and cytokine release. Using both the physiochemical particle properties and biological data, we performed multi-dimensional data analysis to explore relationships between particle properties and immunotoxicological effects. Results: We investigated land-derived polyethylene, polypropylene, polystyrene, and polyethylene terephthalate, water-derived polypropylene macroplastics, and virgin polyethylene fibers and nylon MPs. The different plastic polymeric compositions and MP size classes induced distinct cytokine responses. Macrophages had the largest response to polyethylene terephthalate-particle exposure, including a dose-related increase in IL-1β, IL-8, and TNF-α secretion. Smaller MPs induced cytokine production at lower concentrations. Additionally, a relationship between both physical and chemical particle properties and the inflammatory response of macrophages was found. Discussion: This research shows that MP exposure could lead to an inflammatory response in vitro, depending on MP material and size. Whether this implies a risk to human health needs to be further explored.
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