Boiling Water May Remove Microplastics

Environmental plastic pollution, known as microplastic, has been found in every organ in the body. Scientists don’t know if they pass through us or if they permanently build up in our system, accumulating into health threats. A study looking at the placentas of 62 newborns found microplastic in every single one.

Dose makes the poison,” said biologist Matthew Campen from the Univ. of New Mexico. “If the dose keeps going up, we start to worry. If we’re seeing effects on placentas, then all mammalian life on this planet could be impacted. That’s not good.”

Microplastic is in our water system. However, a new study has found that boiling tap water can destroy at least 80 percent of the three most common plastics found in water. That makes it safer than bottled water. Bottled water can contain up to a quarter of a million fragments of microplastics per liter.

Microplastics are roughly the size of a virus and are absorbed through the intestines and blood-brain barrier. We don’t know the full extent of how they harm the body. We do know they can inflame the intestines and kill red blood cells. They closely resemble chemicals in the body that run important biological functions and may disrupt how systems run. They may cause reproductive issues and have been linked to some cancers.

The study only looked at the top three plastics. There are other dangerous plastics. The huge benefit was also only seen in hard water. While hard water is the most common in America, it’s not everywhere. And while it concluded it made the water “safe,” boiling only removed 80 percent of the plastic, not 100 percent. That means it is safer, but it seems early to give the water the all-clear. It looks like boiling water is a step in the right direction, but it might not be the cure the study claims it is.

Hard water is water with high amounts of minerals like calcium, magnesium and limescale. If you aren’t sure if you have hard water, just take a look at your shower head. If you have white buildup on it, you have hard water — that white stuff is minerals.

When water is boiled, the microplastics get trapped in the limescale. For soft water, with low levels of limescale, boiling the water captured 25 percent of the microplastics. That’s still a significant improvement when considering how much water we drink.

Even if you don’t boil every glass of water you drink, taking the time to boil some of your water could cut back on your intake of microplastics. If you drink a lot of water, you could boil pots, let them cool and store them in jugs in your fridge. If you have been concerned about microplastics until someone makes a filter that removes them, this may be the best solution!  

Banner image: Ioann-Mark Kuznietsov via Unsplash

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