Science & Tech

Microscopic Realm: Nanoplastics in Bottled Water

  • A recent study undertaken by Columbia University experts sheds light on the prevalence of micro- and nano-plastics in bottled water, with nano-plastics accounting for an astonishing 90% of the discovered particles.

What are nanoplastics?

  • Nanoplastics are tiny particles that cannot be seen with the naked eye, making identification and measurement difficult.
  • Comparative analysis: Nanoplastics are 70 times smaller than the diameter of a human hair, making them both inconspicuous and widespread.

Key Findings

  • Bottled water includes around 2.4 lakh micro- and nano-plastic particles per litre, indicating that the plastic concentration has been significantly underestimated in comparison to prior evaluations.
  • Dominance of Nanoplastics: Nano-sized particles, which were previously undetected by traditional imaging techniques, now account for 90% of the overall plastic population.
  • Complex Particle Dynamics: Analysis reveals a wide range of plastic compositions, forms, and sizes, shedding light on the intricate interactions between various plastic kinds in the aquatic environment.

How were they evaluated?

  • Nanoplastics provide analytical issues due to their small size and the limits of current diagnostic procedures.
  • To address these issues, researchers use a proprietary hyperspectral Stimulated Raman Scattering (SRS) imaging equipment, which allows for precise molecular study at the single-particle level.
  • Raman Scattering Principle: SRS microscopy uses the Raman Effect to identify plastic particles based on their unique spectral fingerprints.


  • Environmental Importance: The study emphasises the pervasiveness of plastic contamination, with microplastics penetrating ecosystems globally, even bottled water supplies.
  • Biological Impact: Because sub-micrometre plastic particles can cross biological barriers and collect within living beings, they pose a risk to human health.
  • Technological advancements: The use of modern imaging technology improves our understanding of nanoplastic dynamics, allowing for more accurate evaluations of plastic pollution levels.

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