We rely on clean water for a variety of daily needs in our homes. Water – whether it is obtained from a private well or a municipal source, is used to cook, clean, bathe and drink each day. Unfortunately, water supplies can become contaminated, potentially putting your health and the health of your loved ones at risk. Microplastics are an emerging threat to safe, clean drinking water. With a reverse osmosis drinking water system, you can protect your family from contamination associated with microplastic in drinking water.
What Are Microplastics?
Plastic trash has long been a concern for environmental management agencies and water safety experts. Within plastic trash, a subset known as “microplastics” is defined by water safety experts as tiny plastic particles measuring greater than 1 micrometer to less than 5mm in diameter. One study commissioned by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimated that about 90% of all plastic trash in the world’s oceans falls into the microplastics category.
Nanoplastics are even smaller, ranging from 0.001 micrometers to a maximum diameter of 0.1 micrometers. A micrometer is one-thousandth of a millimeter – so these particles may not be visible without magnification.
Microplastics generally fall into four primary categories based on the molecular structure of the source plastic. These four categories are:
- Polyethylene terephthalate (PET)
- High-density polyethylene (HDPE)
- Low-density polyethylene (LDPE)
- Polypropylenes (PP)
Of course, with so many plastics used in manufacture, microplastics can come from numerous additional sources like nylons, polyesters, and acrylics/polyacrylics. In other words, if a commercial plastic material ends up in the environment, it is likely represented in the world’s burden of microplastics.
Microplastics and nano-plastics are so small that they require advanced water filtration to remove them from water supplies. Municipal water treatment facilities typically do not have this filtration equipment in use. A whole house water filter system is capable of removing microplastics from your water supply before they can cause health effects.
Where Do Microplastics Come From?
Plastics are used around the world in the manufacture of consumer and industrial goods. Sometimes, these plastics wind up in the environment as trash. Over time and through the degradation of plastics from ultraviolet rays, wave activity, and winds, larger plastic pieces break apart, eventually becoming microplastics.
Another emerging source of microplastics is that of consumer personal care products. Microbeads or nanobeads are added to skincare products, shampoos, and even some home cleaning products to provide a gentle abrasive action. As these products are rinsed away, those tiny plastic particles go down the drain and eventually into water sources like reservoirs, rivers, streams, and lakes – sources where municipal water systems often draw water for household uses.
A third and pervasive source of microplastics is tied to the increased availability of synthetic materials used in clothing and upholstery manufacture. Synthetic fibers are woven into cloth for use in athletic wear, casual wear, and stain-resistant fabrics for seating, bedding, and home furnishings. Wastewater produced during the manufacture of these synthetic fabrics is laced with microplastics. When synthetic clothing is washed, microplastics are shed and eventually wind up in water sources around the world. This source of micro-and nano plastics is so great that it is estimated to contribute to as much as 35% of the global release of these particles into the environment, making it the main source of microplastics.
Are Microplastics Dangerous?
Microplastics have been found in every environment, from municipal parks and waterways to sediments on the seafloors of the deepest world oceans. Microplastics may float on the surface or become heavier than water, allowing them to sink. Still, other particles remain suspended in the water column as they are neutrally buoyant. These particles travel with ocean and river currents.
One of the major concerns about microplastics is their classification as persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic (PBT) chemicals. Once ingested, plastics resist further breakdown and can accumulate in the living tissues of humans and marine organisms. PBTs have been demonstrated to have toxic effects on human health in certain studies, even in low concentrations.
Unfortunately, scientists are still unraveling the potential for microplastics to cause illness. One of the concerns is the chemicals these plastic particles may release once they are ingested or inhaled. Exposure to certain chemicals such as bisphenol A (BPA) leached from plastics may contribute to:
- Higher rates of developing certain cancers
- Gastrointestinal disorders
- Inflammation of tissues in the digestive system
- Behavioral changes in children
- Interference with healthy reproductive and neurological development
- Higher rates of developing diabetes type 2
- Increased blood pressure
Protecting yourself and your family members from microplastics in drinking water is paramount. Even as scientists continue to study the potential harms associated with these tiny plastic particles, you could be exposed to microplastic contamination from the water sources you rely on for drinking, cooking, and bathing.
Removing Microplastics from Your Water
Microplastics are tiny particles of plastic that may be difficult to see without a magnifying glass or microscope. Because they are so small, you may not even know your water is contaminated with these particles without laboratory testing. Even municipal water supplies may be contaminated with microplastics; water treatment facilities generally do not filter the water to remove these contaminants.
How can you protect yourself and your family against microplastics? One proven solution is by using a reverse osmosis drinking water system. Reverse osmosis is a mechanical process where water is pumped under pressure through a semipermeable membrane. The tiny pores – as small as 0.0001 micrometers, or smaller than even the tiniest nano plastics -- in the membrane are highly effective in removing particulate matter – even the near-microscopic microplastics that may be found in water supplies. Particles trapped by the membrane are discharged as waste. By using a reverse osmosis system, your water is clean, pure, and fresh.
The most advanced whole house water filtration system uses multiple stages to remove contaminants, improve odor and taste, and boost the clarity of the water. The first stages are effective in removing larger particles of sand and silt. After passing through the reverse osmosis chamber, the water is then filtered through stages containing activated carbon before being delivered to your plumbing fixtures. These systems remove up to 99% of all water contaminants, including:
- Microplastics and nano plastics
- Heavy metals
- Petroleum residues
- Agricultural pesticides and herbicides
- Dissolved salts
- Dissolved minerals
Protect your health and the health of your loved ones with a reverse osmosis drinking water system. Whether you get your water from a municipal source or a well, these systems effectively remove harmful contaminants from the water you use in your home every day.