The inadequate management of plastic wastes has caused the leakage of these into the different ecosystems through the water or soil, degrading into smaller and smaller fragments (microplastics) that can reach different environments and interact with the biota and other particles and substances in various ways (1).

These microplastics can reach food and beverages, thus exposing humans to a new kind of pollution with various health implications (2). However, evidence from adverse outcomes from exposure to these plastic wastes is still weak due to the difficulty in evaluating its effects (3).

Several studies have detected microplastics in drinking water, although the quantity of the latter is smaller than that found in other food products (4).

A study (5) carried out by Spanish researchers using two simultaneous sampling campaigns in eight different locations in continental Spain and the Canary Islands, in spring (May) and summer (July) 2022, allowed the identification of 570 particles of possible anthropogenic origin, from which 84 were recognised as microplastics (synthetic polymers), 132 as artificial (non-plastic) materials, and the rest (360 particles) were natural materials.

Results showed that the average concentration of microplastics found in water was approximately 12 microplastics/m3, with sizes ranging 41.0-379.5 µm (micrometres).

Therefore, and according to the authors, drinking water in Spain does not represent a significant way of exposure to microplastics and probably poses a low risk for human health. Authors conclude that microplastics are starting to gain increasing attention as emergent pollutants in drinking water. However, the dispersion of results and methodological discrepancies among studies make it difficult to draw conclusions on the potential effects and risks for human health.

For this purpose, a more in-depth analysis would be convenient and necessary, and particularly the promotion of policies that restrict single-use plastics.



  1. Du S, Zhu R, Cai Y, Xu N, Yap P-S, Zhang Y, He Y, Zhang Y. Environmental fate and impacts of microplastics in aquatic ecosystems: a review. RSC Advances 2021; 11: 15762-15784
  2. van der Laan LJW, Bosker T, Peijnenburg WJGM. Deciphering potential implications of dietary microplastics for human health. Nature Reviews Gastroenterology & Hepatology 2022.
  3. Rodrigues MO, Abrantes N, Gonçalves FJM, Nogueira H, Marques JC, Gonçalves AMM. Impacts of plastic products used in daily life on the environment and human health: What is known? Environmental Toxicology and Pharmacology, 2019; 72: 103239.
  4. Mortensen NP, Fennell TR, Johnson LM. Unintended human ingestion of nanoplastics and small microplastics through drinking water, beverages, and food sources. Nanoimpact 2021; 21.
  5. Gálvez Blanca, Virginia & Edo, Carlos & gonzalez pleiter, Miguel & Albentosa, Marina & Bayo, Javier & Beiras, Ricardo & Fernandez-Piñas, Francisca & Gago, J. & Gonzalez-Cascon, Rosario & Hernández-Borges, Javier & Landaburu-Aguirre, Junkal & Martinez, Ico & Muniategui Lorenzo, Soledad & Romera-Castillo, Cristina & Rosal, Roberto. (2023). Occurrence and size distribution study of microplastics in household water from different cities in continental Spain and the Canary Islands. 120044. 10.1016/j.watres.2023.120044.


Amor Escoz Roldán
PhD in Education Sciences
Environmental Educator, Environmental Science Specialist