Occurrence of Microplastics in Tap and Bottled Water: Current Knowledge

Occurrence of Microplastics in Tap and Bottled Water: Current Knowledge

Isabella Gambino † , Francesco Bagordo † , Tiziana Grassi * , Alessandra Panico and Antonella De Donno Department of Biological and Environmental Science and Technology, University of Salento, 73100 Lecce, Italy; isabella.gambino@unisalento.it (I.G.); francesco.bagordo@unisalento.it (F.B.); alessandra.panico@unisalento.it (A.P.); antonella.dedonno@unisalento.it (A.D.D.) * Correspondence: tiziana.grassi@unisalento.it † These authors contributed equally to this work.


A narrative review was carried out to describe the current knowledge related to the occurrence of MPs in drinking water. The reviewed studies (n = 21) showed the presence of microplastics (MPs) in tap (TW) and bottled (BW) water, increasing concerns for public health due to the possible toxicity associated with their polymeric composition, additives, and other compounds or microorganism adsorbed on their surface. The MP concentration increase by decreasing particles size and was higher in BW than in TW. Among BW, reusable PET and glass bottles showed a higher MP contamination than other packages. The lower MP abundance in TW than in natural sources indicates a high removal rate of MPs in drinking water treatment plants. This evidence should encourage the consumers to drink TW instead of BW, in order to limit their exposure to MPS and produce less plastic waste. The high variability in the results makes it difficult to compare the findings of different studies and build up a general hypothesis on human health risk. A globally shared protocol is needed to harmonize results also in view of the monitoring plans for the emerging contaminants, including MPs, introduced by the new European regulation.

Keywords: microplastics; drinking water; tap water; bottled water; exposure; toxicity

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