Boiling Tap Water Emerges as Potential Solution to Microplastic Contamination

Concerned about the presence of plastic compounds in your tap water? A recent study proposes a potential solution: boiling the tap water. According to research published in Environmental Research Letters, boiling tap water can eliminate at least 80 percent of three prevalent plastic compounds commonly found in water.

The study focused on the effects of boiling on three compounds polystyrene, polyethylene, and polypropylene. These compounds, when not fully broken down, transform into nanoplastics, posing potential threats to human health. Boiling tap water, a practice already common in East Asian kitchens, might offer a safer alternative to consuming bottled water, as recent findings revealed that bottled water could contain significant amounts of nanoplastics.

Of the three tested compounds, polystyrene raises the most concern due to its potential to inflame the intestine and impact red blood cells. While polyethylene and polypropylenes are generally considered safe, some experts argue that the safety evaluation process for plastics has inherent flaws.

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Boiling Tap Water

boiling-tap-water-emerges-potential-solution-microplastic-contamination
Concerned about the presence of plastic compounds in your tap water? A recent study proposes a potential solution: boiling the tap water.

During the study, scientists introduced the plastic compounds into ‘hard water,’ characterized by elevated levels of calcium carbonate and magnesium—common in certain U.S. freshwater sources. When the plastic-containing water was boiled, calcium carbonates formed small clumps around most microscopic plastics, effectively trapping and neutralizing them.

However, the study has limitations. It focused on only three plastic polymers and did not examine other concerning compounds like vinyl chloride found in bottled water. Boiling also did not completely remove all polymer traces. Additionally, researchers are increasingly concerned about plasticizers such as BPA, PFAS, and phthalates commonly mixed with polymers, which can have adverse effects on biological systems.

While the boiling method shows promise, it relies on hard water or the addition of calcium carbonate common but not universal globally. Despite these limitations, the study suggests a potential approach to mitigating certain forms of plastic pollution, especially when compared to recent findings about microplastics in bottled water.

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