What's in Your Water? Article of the week May 7 to 11, 2018
Staying hydrated is important for your health, and dehydration will become a bigger issue for some as the weather gets hotter. Some of the more common symptoms of dehydration include headaches, dizziness, lethargy, dry skin, low blood pressure and rapid heart rate. For many, staying hydrated involves buying bottled water. For those of you my generation or older, the concept of paying to buy water probably would have sounded absurd if we had been told about it when we were growing up. This week's article of the week is about the impact drinking bottled water has on your health and on the environment.
Did you know that you are likely ingesting small plastic particles, too small to see, if you routinely drink bottled water? A recent study revealed that most bottled water contains micro plastic pollution, contamination that occurs as the bottles and caps are manufactured. In this study, 11 brands of bottled water including Aquafina, Nestle Pure Life, Evian, Dasani and San Pellegrino were evaluated. A total of 259 individual bottles were tested that were found to have an average of 325 pieces of micro plastic per litre! Only 17 of the 259 bottles tested were free of micro plastic particles. While some of this plastic will pass through your digestive system for excretion, a percentage of it is known to get lodged in your digestive tract as well as ending up in your lymphatic system.
Another source of plastic ingestion is the air in our homes. Because we rely on plastic products so heavily as a society, more and more microscopic particles are being released into the environment and many of these are airborne and can end up on our dinner plates. A study from Heriot-Watt University found that up to 14 pieces of micro plastic end up on a dinner plate with each meal, and they estimated that the average person would swallow an estimated 68,145 plastic fibres per year. These airborne micro plastics come from everything from carpeting to clothing to car tires.
There are still a lot of unknowns about the exact health dangers these plastics pose, but we know enough to state that plastic doesn't belong in the human body. Plastics are endocrine disruptors, which mean they can mimic the effects of various hormones in your body. They can also interfere with the development of the embryo in expecting mothers, they can interfere with the expression of genes in your body, cause organ damage and they've also been linked to obesity, heart disease and cancer. From a health standpoint, you want to do everything possible to reduce your exposure to environmental micro plastics. The environmental impact of this form of pollution is another mounting concern.
Some simple ways you can protect your health and help reduce this health threat is to simply use a reusable water bottle or coffee mug if you don't already. You can also opt for reusable shopping totes instead of plastic bags, make sure you recycle your plastics properly, and just generally look for ways to buy products that are not sold in plastic packaging. For the record, I drink from a reusable steel water bottle which I carry with me everywhere I go. If you drink well or municipal water, it's a good idea to drink filtered or reverse osmosis water that can remove impurities.
Stay Hydrated and Stay Healthy!
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