Experts recommend drinking a minimum of eight glasses of water per day for good health. To meet this requirement, many people drink water out of plastic water bottles throughout the day. In fact, people in the U.S. use over 50 billion plastic water bottles every year. But unfortunately, a new study found that drinking out of these plastic bottles may not be such a good idea.

The Microplastic Problem

Plastic starts to break down into smaller and smaller pieces over time. Plastic debris that is less than five millimeters in length is referred to as microplastic. Researchers have found that consuming a large amount of microplastic can lead to a number of health problems, including reproductive and digestion issues. The simple solution to this problem would be to avoid consuming microplastics, but the problem is that it’s becoming harder and harder to do so.

Researchers have already detected microplastics in fish, mussels, honey, and other common foods. According to researchers at the State University of New York, these toxic pieces of plastic debris are now in our bottled water as well.

Microplastics in Bottled Water

The researchers analyzed samples of water from nearly 260 different water bottles produced by 11 brands. The team was shocked to find that more than 90% of the samples contained a detectable level of microplastics. Furthermore, the bottled water samples contained nearly twice the amount of microplastics found in tap water. Nestle Pure Life had the highest level of microplastics of all the brands tested, whereas other American brands such as Aquafina and Dasani had much lower levels.

The researchers believe that microplastics enter these companies’ water products during the packing process. These companies already filter their water to ensure it is as pure as possible, so the pieces that were found were microscopic in size. Since microplastic can be airborne, it would be incredibly difficult for the companies to prevent all pieces of plastic debris from making its way into the bottles.

What You Should Do

There may not be much that these companies can do, but there are a few ways for you to reduce your exposure to microplastics. Stay hydrated by drinking water out of a reusable bottle instead of going through multiple water bottles per day. Both stainless steel and glass bottles are eco-friendly choices. Glass is slightly heavier, but it is less expensive than stainless steel. Fill your reusable bottle up with filtered tap water whenever you’re in need of a drink.

You can also cut back on using plastic products so you can reduce the amount of plastic waste you produce every year. Avoid purchasing single-use plastic items such as disposable silverware, straws, cups, and bags. This will ensure you are not contributing to the microplastic problem.

Don’t be afraid to encourage friends and family to follow your lead. Many people are unaware of the extent of the microplastic problem, so they don’t feel motivated to act on it. Educate your loved ones about this issue so they know how important it is to take action. Then, explain how they can make a difference by reducing their plastic usage today.