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Water Res. 2019 May 15;155:410-422. doi: 10.1016/j.watres.2019.02.054. Epub 2019 Feb 28.

Microplastics in freshwaters and drinking water: Critical review and assessment of data quality.

Author information

1
Aquatic Ecology and Water Quality Management Group, Wageningen University, the Netherlands. Electronic address: bart.koelmans@wur.nl.
2
Aquatic Ecology and Water Quality Management Group, Wageningen University, the Netherlands.
3
Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development, Utrecht University, the Netherlands; KWR Watercycle Research Institute, Nieuwegein, the Netherlands.
4
World Health Organisation (WHO), Avenue Appia 20, 1211, Geneva, Switzerland. Electronic address: defrancej@who.int.

Abstract

Microplastics have recently been detected in drinking water as well as in drinking water sources. This presence has triggered discussions on possible implications for human health. However, there have been questions regarding the quality of these occurrence studies since there are no standard sampling, extraction and identification methods for microplastics. Accordingly, we assessed the quality of fifty studies researching microplastics in drinking water and in its major freshwater sources. This includes an assessment of microplastic occurrence data from river and lake water, groundwater, tap water and bottled drinking water. Studies of occurrence in wastewater were also reviewed. We review and propose best practices to sample, extract and detect microplastics and provide a quantitative quality assessment of studies reporting microplastic concentrations. Further, we summarize the findings related to microplastic concentrations, polymer types and particle shapes. Microplastics are frequently present in freshwaters and drinking water, and number concentrations spanned ten orders of magnitude (1 × 10-2 to 108 #/m3) across individual samples and water types. However, only four out of 50 studies received positive scores for all proposed quality criteria, implying there is a significant need to improve quality assurance of microplastic sampling and analysis in water samples. The order in globally detected polymers in these studies is PE ≈ PP > PS > PVC > PET, which probably reflects the global plastic demand and a higher tendency for PVC and PET to settle as a result of their higher densities. Fragments, fibres, film, foam and pellets were the most frequently reported shapes. We conclude that more high quality data is needed on the occurrence of microplastics in drinking water, to better understand potential exposure and to inform human health risk assessments.

KEYWORDS:

Drinking water; Human health; Microplastics; Surface water; Waste water

PMID:
30861380
PMCID:
PMC6449537
DOI:
10.1016/j.watres.2019.02.054
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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