Government to investigate microplastics in drinking water situation – The Post

Government to investigate microplastics in drinking water situation

The discovery of microplastics in the Copenhagen area earlier this week spurs food minister into action

What is the frequency in Danish drinking water? (photo: Flickr – Oregon State University)
September 21st, 2017 9:14 am| by Christian W

There will be no resting on any laurels by the government following revelations this week that samples of drinking water in parts of Denmark showed traces of microplastics.

The environment and food minister, Esben Lunde Larsen, has launched an investigation into the issue in order to obtain a precise measurement of the amount of microplastics in the water.

“We need to clear up whether microplastics exist in Danish drinking water and unfortunately we don’t know that much about microplastics,” said Larsen.

“Researchers agree that there isn’t really an accurate measuring method as of yet, so we have supported the development of a reliable method. I expect it to be ready for use within a few short months, and I will ask the Environmental Protection Agency to measure microplastics in the drinking water as soon as possible.”

READ MORE: Microplastics found in Danish drinking water

European effort
Larsen went on to say that the results of the measurements, which are expected to be revealed at the beginning of 2018, will be incorporated into a future Danish action plan regarding plastics.

The results and experiences will also be shared with the rest of the EU community in a bid to aid a European plastic strategy.



  • Microplastics are defined as bits of plastic less than 5 mm in diameter – though most are far smaller than 1 mm in diameter and cannot be seen by the naked eye
  • Microplastics can either be produced purposely and added to cosmetics, or come from the breaking down of larger plastic pieces. Of the microplastics in the water environment, it is estimated that 1 percent is produced, while 99 percent is broken down
  • Microplastics are found in many products, including honey, beer, sugar and fish – and some even exist as tiny particles in the air
  • In terms of research, microplastics remains an unknown area and there is a lack of reliable measuring methods. The Environmental Protection Agency has teamed up with Aarhus University to develop a reliable method that is expected to be ready in November
  • While the health impact of microplastics on humans has yet to be thoroughly investigated, the National Food Institute contended in 2016 that there are no apparent health-related issues connected to ingesting microplastics sized all the way down to 0.1 micrometre