The effect of temperature and storage time on the migration of antimony from polyethylene terephthalate (PET) into commercial bottled water in Kuwait

Research shows antimony (a toxic heavy metal) can be leached from water bottles made of PET plastics. The rate of leaching is low at a storage temperature of 25°C. However, at temperatures of 50°C and above, antimony release can occur very rapidly. It is likely to approach these temperatures in the Middle East generally and in Kuwait specifically. Therefore, exposure to high temperatures in short period of time during packaging, transportation or storage could produce antimony concentrations that exceed the USEPA MCL of 6 ppb.

Since the 1960s, researchers have been searching for “bioplastics” — alternatives to petroleum-derived plastics that can replace conventional plastics. Research shows why these alternative materials do not address the core problem driving plastic pollution—the wasteful use of resources to create “throwaway” products—and instead how they perpetuate the problem. Biodegradable plastics have numerous drawbacks, including raw material needs, dubious ability to actually biodegrade, and high economic costs. No matter how many bioplastics or “environmentally friendly” materials there are, if we do not reduce the production of these types of materials and consequently their waste, there will be no real solutions. We need to be aware of what we consume, support initiatives that promote environmental care and demand the commitment of governments to legislate and enforce laws, as well as encouraging businesses to change their materials and production processes.

When comparing water of the same spring that is packed in glass or plastic bottles made of polyethylene terephthalate (PET), scientists find estrogenic activity is three times higher in water from plastic bottles. These data support the hypothesis that PET packaging materials are a source of estrogen-like compounds. Furthermore, the findings presented here conform to previous studies and indicate that the contamination of bottled water with endocrine disruptors is a transnational phenomenon.

Scientists test for microplastic contamination in 11 globally sourced brands of bottled water, purchased in 19 locations in nine countries. Of 259 bottles, 93% show clear signs of microplastic contamination. Fragments of microplastic were the most common type detected. A small number of particles showed chemical presence of industrial lubricant chemicals. Data suggests the contamination is at least partially coming from the packaging and/or the bottling process itself. The researchers found roughly twice as many plastic particles within bottled water as compared to tap water on average.

The Minderoo-Monaco Commission on Plastics and Human Health report findings suggest a global cap on plastic production as a central provision developing globally binding controls addressing the harms caused by plastics. The goals of this Minderoo-Monaco Commission on Plastics and Human Health are to comprehensively examine plastics’ impacts across their life cycle on: (1) human health and well-being; (2) the global environment, especially the ocean; (3) the economy; and (4) vulnerable populations—the poor, minorities, and the world’s children. On the basis of this examination, the Commission offers science-based recommendations designed to support development of a Global Plastics Treaty, protect human health, and save lives. Top experts weigh in on the plastic crisis and solutions.

This report by the Global Commission on the Economics of Water shows what’s at stake if humanity fails to address the escalating water crisis. We are now seeing the consequences not of freak events, nor of population growth and economic development, but of having mismanaged water globally for decades. As the science and evidence show, we now face a systemic water crisis that is both local and global. Our collective actions have pushed the global water cycle out of balance for the first time in human history, wreaking increasing damage on communities everywhere. Further, countries are interconnected not only through transboundary rivers or streams of groundwater, but also through atmospheric flows of water vapour. And dangerously, we face water’s deepening connection with climate change and the loss of biodiversity, with each reinforcing the other. We will fail on climate change if we do not solve water. We will also fail on all the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). No person, place, economy or ecosystem will be spared. We can only fix this collectively. And if we move with urgency.