The World Health Organization (WHO) has called for a reduction in plastic pollution to benefit the environment and reduce human exposure.
WHO launched its first report today on microplastics in drinking-water, cautioning the that while findings show a low risk to human health, more research is needed.
treated tap and bottled water have raised questions and concerns about the impact that microplastics in drinking-water might have on human health.
WHO notes that the report critically examines the evidence related to the occurrence of microplastics in the water cycle (including both tap and bottled drinking-water and its sources), the potential health impacts from microplastic exposure and the removal of microplastics during wastewater and drinking-water treatment.
“Recommendations are made with respect to monitoring and management of microplastics and plastics in the environment, and to better assess human health risks and inform appropriate management actions, a number of key knowledge gaps are identified.”
“We urgently need to know more about the health impact of microplastics because they are everywhere – including in our drinking-water,” says Dr Maria Neira, Director, Department of Public Health, Environment and Social Determinants of Health, at WHO. “Based on the limited information we have, microplastics in drinking water don’t appear to pose a health risk at current levels. But we need to find out more. We also need to stop the rise in plastic pollution worldwide.”
According to the analysis, which summarizes the latest knowledge on microplastics in drinking-water, microplastics larger than 150 micrometres are not likely to be absorbed in the human body and uptake of smaller particles is expected to be limited. Absorption and distribution of very small microplastic particles including in the nano size range may, however, be higher, although the data is extremely limited.