Lebanon has the second highest rate of plastic contamination of tap water in the world, according to a new study published Wednesday.
An investigation by Orb Media revealed that over 93 percent of tap water samples from Lebanon contained plastic fibers. Fibers were found in 83 percent of samples taken in more than a dozen countries.
“This research only scratches the surface, but it seems to be a very itchy one,” said Hussam Hawwa, from environmental consultancy Difaf, which collected samples for Orb, the Guardian newspaper reported.
Investigations by Orb Media are the first of its kind according to the news outlet and have led scientists to call for urgent research into the health implications.
Current standard water treatment systems do not filter out all of the micro-plastics, Mahon was quoted as saying: “There is nowhere really where you can say these are being trapped 100 percent. In terms of fibers, the diameter is 10 microns across and it would be very unusual to find that level of filtration in our drinking water systems.”
“Micro-plastics have been shown to absorb toxic chemicals linked to cancer and other illnesses, and then release them when consumed by fish and mammals,” the study read.
Ranking above Lebanon with the highest rate of contamination was the United States, at 94 percent of samples. The lowest instance of contamination was found in European nations, at 74 percent.
High amounts of the material in homes can be attributed to the ubiquity of the indestructible fibers and might have origins in the everyday abrasion of clothes, upholstery and carpets.
Tap water is not commonly used for drinking in Lebanon, but it is often used for cooking, cleaning and bathing. While the rate of micro-plastic contamination is alarming, little is known about their health effects.