Microplastics in Drinking Water Not a Health Risk: WHO

THURSDAY, Aug. 22, 2019 (HealthDay News) -- Levels of microplastics in drinking water don't appear to be a health risk, according to the World Health Organization.

However the U.N. health agency also noted that more research is needed into how microplastics may impact human health and the environment, the Associated Press reported.

Microplastics -- tiny particles smaller than about one-fifth of an inch -- are "ubiquitous in the environment" and have been found in drinking water, including tap and bottled, the WHO said in the report released Wednesday.

"But just because we're ingesting them doesn't mean we have a risk to human health,' said Bruce Gordon, WHO's coordinator of water, sanitation and hygiene, the AP reported.

"The main conclusion is, I think, if you are a consumer drinking bottled water or tap water, you shouldn't necessarily be concerned," according to Gordon.

However, he noted that available data on microplastics is "weak" and said more research is needed. He also called for increased efforts to reduce plastic pollution, the AP reported.

Microplastics in water don't appear to be a health threat at the moment, but "I wouldn't want people to go away with the idea that microplastics are no longer important," said Andrew Mayes, a senior lecturer in chemistry at Britain's University of East Anglia who wasn't involved in the WHO report.

Microplastics might be damaging the environment and stronger measures to reduce plastic waste are needed, he told the AP.

"We know that these types of materials cause stress to small organisms," Mayes said. "They could be doing a lot of damage in unseen ways."

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