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Investigating the pollution of bottled water by the microplastics (MPs): the effects of mechanical stress, sunlight exposure, and freezing on MPs release

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Bottled water is becoming more popular worldwide and possible contamination’s need to be analyzed. Microplastics (MPs) are ubiquitous environmental pollutants and have recently been regarded as an important contaminant in bottled water due to oral intake and possible threats to human health. In the present study, MP amounts in 23 popular Iranian brands of bottled water were determined by filtration and counting under scanning electron microscopy (SEM). The effects of mechanical stress, environmental factors, and freezing on MP release also were investigated. The average amounts of MPs in water samples were 1496.7 ± 1452.2 particles/L (199.8 to 6626.7 particles/L). The amounts of MPs in different brands was significantly different (p < 0.05). As much as 91.3% of detected particles had the size between 1 and 10 μm. The most likely polymers determined by FTIR spectroscopy was polyethylene terephthalate (PET). The freezing of water in the bottles did not show any significant effect on the MPs release, but mechanical stress to the bottles increased MP amounts in the water significantly. Environmental factors including sunlight exposure and the age of bottles showed the most degradative effects on the structure of polymers in the body of PET bottles and release of MPs. Regardless of their type, source and commercial brands, bottled water is contaminated with hundreds to thousands MPs/L. The main portion (above 90%) of these MPs are < 5 μm particles with considerable effects on human health.

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Data availability

The datasets used and/or analyzed during the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.


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This study was supported by a grant from the research deputy of Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, Isfahan, Iran (Research project code: 399320).

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Correspondence to Karim Ebrahimpour.

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The proposal of present study was reviewed and approved by the ethics committee of Isfahan university of medical sciences (Code: IR.MUI.RESEARCH.REC.1399.362).

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Taheri, S., Shoshtari-Yeganeh, B., Pourzamani, H. et al. Investigating the pollution of bottled water by the microplastics (MPs): the effects of mechanical stress, sunlight exposure, and freezing on MPs release. Environ Monit Assess 195, 62 (2023).

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