Your tap water may contain plastic, researchers warn

A study based on samples from 14 countries says people may be ingesting between 3,000 and 4,000 microparticles of plastic from tap water every year. (AFP file photo)
Updated 06 September 2017
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Your tap water may contain plastic, researchers warn

PARIS: People may be ingesting between 3,000 and 4,000 microparticles of plastic from tap water every year, said a study Wednesday based on samples from 14 countries.
While the health risks are unknown, the researchers pointed to previous findings that plastic particles can absorb, and release, potentially harmful chemicals and bacteria.
For the survey, 159 tap water samples were analyzed of which “83 percent were found to contain plastic particles,” researchers from the University of Minnesota and the State University of New York wrote in a report entitled: “Invisibles: The plastic inside us.”
While much research has focused on plastic pollution of lakes, rivers, the ocean, beaches, even the air we breathe, less attention has been paid to its presence in human consumables, said the team.
This was the first study to look at micro-plastics in drinking water, they added.
Samples were collected in the first three months of the year in Kampala, Uganda; New Delhi, India; Jakarta, Indonesia; Beirut, Lebanon; Quito, Ecuador; several cities in the United States and in seven European countries.
All were sent to the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, for lab testing.
By far the majority of particles found were fibers ranging from 0.1 to five millimeters (0.004-0.2 inches) in length.
The range was from zero to 57 particles per liter of water, with an average of 4.34 particles per liter.
“The highest density of plastic per volume of tap water was found in North America and the lowest densities were found, collectively, in seven European countries,” wrote the team.
Based on liquid consumption of three liters (6.3 US pints) per day, as recommended, a man may consume as many as 14 plastic particles daily if his chosen beverages were tap water or made with tap water, said the authors.
For women, this would amount to about 10 particles for an intake of 2.2 liters.
“These daily doses add up to an annual total of over 4,000 for men and over 3,000 for women,” wrote the team.
“These plastic particles are in addition to plastics potentially consumed in other products, such as sea salt, beer and seafood.”
A study in January said a European shellfish consumer may be ingesting up to 11,000 micro plastics per year from that source alone.
The researchers used the same plastic containers in which the samples were collected to test treated water from the lab, to rule out plastic contamination from the bottle itself.
“The results of this study serve... as an initial glimpse at the consequences of human plastic use (and) disposal rather than a comprehensive assessment of global plastic contamination,” the team concluded.
They called for further tests to gather more data about potential pollution sources and pathways, as well as the risks to human health.
Micro-plastics are less than 5 mm long, about the size of a sesame seed. They come in the form of “micro-beads” used in scrubs and toothpaste, and can also be created when larger pieces of plastic waste degrade.


Dhaka relishes traditional ‘Dhakaia iftar’ in Ramadan

Chawak Bazar Iftar market vendors on a busy Wednesday afternoon. (AN photo)
Updated 24 May 2018
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Dhaka relishes traditional ‘Dhakaia iftar’ in Ramadan

  • While much has changed in Dhaka, its tasty Ramadan dishes have stayed the same in the 400-year old city established by the Mughal dynasty.
  • The exquisite variety of kebabs attracts food lovers from far and wide, reminding them of the existence of Mughals through different food menus — offering tikka, shutli, jaali, shami, irani and other kinds of kebabs.

DHAKA: “To me it’s like a festival. During Ramadan, all of us friends regularly gather at my house and have the ‘Dhakaia Iftar’ together,” said Abdullah Alamin, 48, a city dweller of old Dhaka.

While much has changed in Dhaka, these tasty dishes have stayed the same in the 400-year old city established by the Mughal dynasty.

“Chawak Bazar Iftar market of old Dhaka has a history of more than 100 years. Many things of the area have changed with the passage of time but the Chawak Bazar Iftar remains unchanged,” said renowned historian Muntasir Mamun, a professor at Dhaka University.

Chawak Bazar became the city center of Dhaka during the Mughal regime in the early-16th century. The iftar bazar is a continuity of the retail market set up since then, Muntasir said.

During Ramadan, people from all over Dhaka get something more to add to their regular iftar menu.

In Chawak Bazar, vendors in makeshift shops offer a variety of iftar items. These include “boro baper polai khai” (only the son of an influential father eats this), shahi jilapi, shahi paratha, beef, chicken, mutton, pigeon, quail roast, keema roll, keema paratha, doi bora, borhani.

The exquisite variety of kebabs attracts food lovers from far and wide, reminding them of the existence of Mughals through different food menus — offering tikka, shutli, jaali, shami, irani and other kinds of kebabs.

Boro baper polai khai is the most popular iftar item among the locals. People from old Dhaka can simply not complete their iftar without having a piece of it. This is an exclusive food of the city made of chicken, minced meat, potatoes, brain, chira, egg, spices and ghee.

“This is a traditional food of old Dhaka. I saw my grandfather enjoying eating boro baper polai khai,” said Hajji Joinal Molla, 79, who has been living in the Lalbag area of old Dhaka for many years.

“We love to treat our special guests with this dish,” Joinal said.

Most of the 200 vendors at the market are second- or third-generation businesses. 

“My 11-year-old son is very fond of shami kebab at Chawak Bazar. Today he has invited some of his friends to our house, which brought me here to this iftar market,” said Shamsuddin Ahmed, 55, a resident of Uttara, new Dhaka.

“These traditional Iftar items have become an integral part of our iftar culture,” Shamsuddin said.