The World Health Organization (WHO) said the level of microplastics in drinking-water is not yet dangerous for humans but called for more research into potential future risk.
In its first report into the effects of microplastics on human health, WHO looked into the specific impact of microplastics in tap and bottled water.
“The headline messages to reassure drinking water consumers around the world, that based on this assessment, our assessment of the risk is that it’s low,” said Bruce Gordon, WHO coordinator of water and sanitation.
WHO said that data on the presence of microplastics in drinking water is currently limited, with few reliable studies, making it difficult to analyse the results.
The organisation has called on researchers to conduct a more in-depth evaluation into microplastics and the potential impact on human health. It has also urged a crackdown in plastic pollution to benefit the environment and reduce human exposure to microplastics.
WHO said that microplastics larger than 150 micrometres are not likely to be absorbed by the human body but said the chance of absorbing very small microplastic particles, including nano-sized plastics, could be higher, although it said data is limited.
The report warns of other dangers ahead: if plastic emissions in the environment continue at the current rate, microplastic could present widespread risks for aquatic ecosystems in a century, which could in turn increase human exposure.
Experts recommend wastewater treatment, which can remove more than 90% of microplastic in water by using treatments such as filtration.