Man drinking water
[Representational image]Creative Commons

Billions of people are drinking water contaminated by microscopic plastic fibres. These are extremely small pieces of plastic that are turning up in the tap-water systems globally. The contamination is high in the US, Lebanon and India.

According to a non-profit journalism group, Orb Media, an investigation found out 83% of the samples of tap water from over a dozen countries were contaminated.

The US and Lebanon had the highest concentration with 94%, followed by New Delhi in India which had 82%, and Europe had 72%.

"We generally assume the water bottle holding that pure spring water, the microwave-safe plastic bowl we prepare our meals in, or the styrofoam cup holding a hot drink is there protecting our food and drinks. (Instead,) these plastics are breaking down and leaching chemicals," said Scott Belcher, a research professor at North Carolina State University in Orb's report.

Plastics contain chemicals like BPA (bisphenol A) that can leak into the foods and beverages and is linked to thyroid problems, neurological issues and cancer.

"Chemicals from plastics are a constant part of our daily diet," Scott Belcher mentioned.

Reportedly, over 400 million metric tons of new plastic is made each year and only a small fraction of is recycled.

Plastics are constantly "breaking down and leaching chemicals, including endocrine-disrupting plasticizers like BPA or phthalates, flame retardants, and even toxic heavy metals that are all absorbed into our diets and bodies," he further added.