Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - WHO: Microplastics in drinking water not a health risk for now



WHO: Microplastics in drinking water not a health risk for now

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
In its first report into the effects of microplastics on human health, WHO looked into the specific impact of microplastics in tap and bottled water. (Shutterstock/Singkham)

WHO: Microplastics in drinking water not a health risk for now

The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday the level of microplastics in drinking-water is not yet dangerous for humans but called for more research into potential future risk.

In its first report into the effects of microplastics on human health, WHO looked into the specific impact of microplastics in tap and bottled water.

“The headline messages to reassure drinking water consumers around the world, that based on this assessment, our assessment of the risk is that it’s low,” said Bruce Gordon, WHO coordinator of water and sanitation.

WHO said that data on the presence of microplastics in drinking water is currently limited, with few reliable studies, making it difficult to analyse the results.

It called on researchers to conduct a more in-depth evaluation into microplastics and the potential impact on human health.

The organisation has also urged a crackdown in plastic pollution to benefit the environment and reduce human exposure to microplastics.

The report said that irrespective of human health risks caused by microplastics in drinking-water “measures should be taken by policymakers and the public to better manage plastics and reduce the use of plastics where possible”.

WHO said that microplastics larger than 150 micrometres are not likely to be absorbed by the human body but said the chance of absorbing very small microplastic particles, including nano-sized plastics, could be higher, although it said data is limited.

“We urgently need to know more about the health impact of microplastics because they are everywhere – including in our drinking water,” said Maria Neira, director of the Public Health Department at WHO, in a statement.

“We also need to stop the rise in plastic pollution worldwide.”

The report warns of other dangers ahead: if plastic emissions in the environment continue at the current rate, microplastics could present widespread risks for aquatic ecosystems in a century, which could in turn increase human exposure.

Experts recommend wastewater treatment, which can remove more than 90 per cent of microplastics in water by using treatments such as filtration.

WHO said those measures would have a double advantage as it would also address the problem of faecally contaminated water by removing microbial pathogens and chemicals that can cause deadly diarrhoeal diseases.

MOST VIEWED

  • ‘Education’ a priority traffic-law penalty

    A top National Police official on June 21 neither rejected nor confirmed the authenticity of a leaked audio message, which has gone viral on social media, on a waiver of fines for a number of road traffic-related offences. General Him Yan, deputy National Police chief in

  • Siem Reap’s $18M zoo said to educate public, help wildlife

    Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium Co Ltd has invested $18 million in a zoo in Siem Reap province, which will be opened in October to educate and promote animal conservation as well as attract national and international tourists. Currently, the Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium is building the

  • Volunteer scheme to foster ‘virtuous’ humanitarian spirit

    A senior education official said volunteer work contributes to solidarity and promotes a virtuous humanitarian spirit among the youth and communities. Serei Chumneas, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, made the comment during the opening of a training programme called “

  • Chinese firms unveil preliminary results on metro, monorail for capital

    Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol and representatives from China Road and Bridge Corp (CRBC) and its parent company, the state-owned China Communications Construction Co Ltd (CCCC), met on June 24 for talks on results of the firms’ preliminary study on a potential metro

  • Nestle’s debut may spur dairy market

    Leading confectionery manufacturer Nestle plans to invest in Cambodia by setting up an operation in the near future, a move majorly hailed by local dairy farmers as a means of boosting the fresh milk market in the Kingdom. During a visit by a delegation led

  • ACLEDA, WU to enable global money transfers

    Cambodia's largest commercial bank by total assets ACLEDA Bank Plc and global money transfer firm Western Union (WU) have partnered to offer customers cross-border money transfers to 200 countries via “ACLEDA mobile” app. In Channy, president and group managing director of ACLEDA, said the June 22 agreement