Boiling may reduce microplastics in drinking water, study finds

Boiling may reduce microplastics in drinking water, study findsBoiling may reduce microplastics in drinking water, study finds
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Ryan General
March 1, 2024
Boiling water, a common practice in many Asian countries, could be an effective way to significantly reduce microplastics in tap water, a new study suggests.
What the research found: A study published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology Letters this week found that boiling water can remove up to 90% of these potentially harmful plastic particles, which are increasingly being found in water supplies around the world.
A centuries-old practice: This finding adds another layer to the cultural preference for hot water among Asians, which has endured through generations and is rooted in historical efforts to promote health and hygiene.
In China, the practice of drinking hot water dates back to public health campaigns in the early 20th century, when warm water was promoted for its perceived cleanliness and hygiene. This widespread practice also likely stemmed from its longstanding tradition in Chinese medicine. The Huangdi Neijing, an ancient text on traditional Chinese medicine written over 2,000 years ago, emphasizes warm water as a key element for maintaining health and balance within the body.
Dive deeper: After conducting experiments simulating tap water conditions, researchers Zhanjun Li and Eddy Y. Zeng found that boiling was most effective in removing microplastics from “hard” water, which contains high levels of calcium and magnesium. These minerals form crystals around plastic particles during boiling, making them easier to remove through filtration.
The researchers emphasize the need for further studies to fully understand the impact of boiling on different water qualities and its long-term health benefits.
Why it matters: The findings come as the full extent of health risks associated with microplastics exposure are being investigated in other studies, with some experts suggesting potential effects on gut health, inflammation and cell function. The World Health Organization has even recommended that water suppliers and regulators optimize water treatment processes for particle removal and microbial safety.
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