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Scientists found microplastics in the most important source of drinking water

Ученые обнаружили микропластик в важнейшем источнике питьевой водыScientists have found chemical contamination.

Researchers have discovered micro-particles of plastic in the groundwater are one of the largest sources of drinking water, reported in the journal Groundwaters, the concentration of particles of up to 15 per liter.

In addition to the plastic scientists found in water chemical pollution, which, apparently, fell into the water from the sedimentation tanks for wastewater treatment.

Every year humanity produces about 400 million tons of plastic, 80 percent of which is thrown away. Part of the plastic waste is transformed into microparticles (smaller than five millimeters), which pollute the soil, water, including water and even polar ice caps. Microparticles of plastic have been found in table salt, beer and marine animals. In the water of microplastics ingested not only from the decaying waste and wastewater (for example, microfibers of plastic formed during the washing of synthetic fabrics), and from the atmosphere. Microparticles of plastic are dangerous because they can accumulate toxic pollution, and once in the body of animals or humans to separate them, causing disease.

Researchers estimate about a quarter of the drinking water around the world is taken from karst groundwater. American environmentalists under the leadership of Samuel Panno (Samuel V. Panno) from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign decided to evaluate the amount of the micro-plastic. Karst reservoirs are not sealed, gets them rain water, and with it different kinds of pollution. The researchers suggested that they may contaminate the water from the settling tanks, liquid fertiliser from the fields, road reagents, which can be microparticles of plastic.

To find out, the authors took samples of water from two karst reservoirs in the South-West and North-West of the state of Illinois. One of them is on a plateau, the Salem, the majority of which is occupied by farmland. There are private houses, many of them with their own settlers. Karst water is supplemented by numerous sources. The researchers took samples of six of them. Another tank is Driftless region (Driftless Area). About 30 percent of this area occupied by the fields, where they grow crops and another 40 percent is given over to pastures.

The researchers took water samples from six locations on the plateau of Salem, and of the eleven in Driftless, and analyzed them for the presence of micro-particles of plastic and chemical pollution. They were in 16 of 17 water samples, and their number ranged from 6.4 to 15.2 microparticles per litre. Particles of polyethylene in water was the most – 20 percent. The researchers also found in the samples of high content of chloride ions, phosphoric acid and the antibacterial agents triclosan.

The authors suggest that the sources of micro-plastic was settling tanks near houses. This is confirmed by the presence of chemical contaminants, such as triclosan, which is added to many detergents. “Imagine how much polyester microfibers falls into the sump after only one wash,” says one of the study’s authors, John Scott (John Scott) from the Illinois center for clean technologies (Illinois Sustainable Technology Center). “And then think about the possibility of leakage of this fluid in underground water table. Especially where groundwater is so easy to interact with the surface”.

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