Conducted by journalism organisation Orb media, the study, conducted at State University of NY in Fredonia, considered 259 bottles bought from different lots in 19 locations in nine countries, including India.
Nearly 93 per cent of samples were contaminated with these particles which looked like "fluorescing constellations" ranging from the width of human hair to the size of red blood cells. "As polypropylene was the most common polymer found, the fragments could also be breaking off the cap, even entering the water through the simple act of opening the bottle", it adds. The study found that "at least part" of the microplastic contamination came from the packaging material and the bottling process itself.
Scientists now are trying to figure out what microplastic does in the human body.
Aqua (Danone), Aquafina (PepsiCo), Bisleri (Bisleri International), Dasani (Coca-Cola), Epura (PepsiCo), Evian (Danone), Gerolsteiner (Gerolsteiner Brunnen), Minalba (Grupo Edson Queiroz), Nestlé Pure Life (Nestlé), San Pellegrino (Nestlé) and Wahaha (Hangzhou Wahaha Group). For the study, sample lots were procured with an eye to geographic diversity, size of the national packaged drinking water market (China, USA, Brazil, India, Indonesia, Mexico), and high per captia consumption of packaged drinking water (Lebanon, Mexico, Thailand, USA).
"The reality in the United States is tap water is far more regulated and tested than the bottled water industry".
The research was conducted on behalf of Orb Media, a U.S-based non-profit journalism organization with which CBC News has partnered.
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Chris Tyree, a reporter with Orb Media who worked on the story about the microplastics study, told CTV News Channel that the concern about bottled water was raised by leading researchers around the world. This figure is just an average though, with some bottles containing very few and some containing magnitudes more.
By contrast, a previous analysis of tap water found that it only has about five pieces of plastic per litre, said Sherri Mason, the lead researcher of the bottled water study and the chair of the geology and environmental sciences department at SUNY Fredonia.
However, the British Soft Drinks Association today stood by the safety of bottled water.
Bottled water is not only bad for the environment.
A sample of Bisleri bottled water from Chennai showed over 5,000 microplastic particles per litre.
Nestlé was not satisfied with the method used to test the water, telling CBC News using Nile red dye could "generate false positives".
Microbeads - tiny plastic beads found in some beauty products that were banned in the U.S.in 2015 - are another source of plastics in water.
Orb consulted several toxicologists and microplastics experts throughout the entire process who also reviewed the findings.