Yesterday, The Guardian published an exclusive report detailing the results of a major scientific study on the high prevalence of microplastics in tap water throughout the world. Defined as tiny plastic fibers that can range from less to 5 mm down to just nanometers in length, the study warns that microplastics can harbor potentially dangerous chemicals or pathogens and are so small they could theoretically penetrate cells and organs.
Yes, it is terrifying (but still totally worth a read). And as the study, performed by scientists around the world as part of an investigation by Orb Media, included sample tests done in Jakarta, those of us living in the Indonesian capital have a good idea just how scared we should be (as if we didn’t have enough environmental dangers to worry about already).
According to the study’s findings, microplastics were found in 76.2% of tap water in Jakarta and an average of 1.9 fibers found per 500ml.
By comparison, the country with the highest percentage was the US with 94.4% and an average of 4.8 fibers per 500ml. Almost all countries surveyed showed fairly high levels of microplastic contamination, with all of the European countries averaging the lowest with 72.2% tap water contamination. Overall, 83% of all the water samples they tested included microplastics.
In Indonesia, samples were drawn from the taps of homes in five parts of the Greater Jakarta region: Bogor, Depok, South Tangerang and Bekasi.
The problem is somewhat mitigated due to the fact that most people in Jakarta don’t drink tap water but instead rely on purified water gallons. However, the study also noted that even samples taken from water bottles in several countries still showed microplastic contamination.
As alarming as the study is, the real risks of microplastic contamination on humans have not been thoroughly investigated, but they have been significantly detrimental to certain animals especially sea life.