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Is there plastic in your drinking water? The University of Toronto's Bob Andrews and Chelsea Rochman say there is—but, unfortunately, they don't have much more information to share.
"If someone asks me how microplastics in drinking water influence human health, I have to say that we have no idea," says Rochman, an assistant professor in the department of ecology and evolutionary biology in U of T's Faculty of Arts & Science.
Mismanagement - Waste
"But we should be concerned that the mismanagement of our waste has come back to haunt us."
Plastic never really goes away. While some waste plastic is recycled or incinerated, most ends up in landfills or worse. A world-leading expert on the fate of plastic waste, Rochman has documented how it ends up in oceans, lakes, rivers, as well as along their shores and even in the bodies of aquatic animals.
Stuff - Sunlight - Pieces
"All of the big stuff that you see eventually gets broken down by sunlight into smaller and smaller pieces," she says.
When plastic pieces become small enough that a microscope is required to see them—anywhere from a few millimetres down to a few micrometres—they are referred to as microplastics. As with larger plastic pieces, microplastics are found widely in the environment. Rochman and her team have even extracted them from the bodies of fish for sale in a commercial market.
Concern - Microplastics - Surface - Time - Fall
Concern over microplastics has been floating just below the surface for some time, but it wasn't until the fall of 2017 that the issue of microplastics in drinking water hit headlines in a big way.
A non-profit group called Orb Media took samples of tap water from around the world, found microplastics in most of their samples, and released their results to the media. As a member of both the Drinking Water Research Group and the Institute for Water Innovation, Andrews, a professor in U...
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