Removing Micro-plastics From Your Tap Water

Removing Micro-plastics From Your Tap Water
Posted in: Iron Removal
By Mark Timmons
More from this author
A few Months ago, Time Magazine reported that "Plastic Fibers Are Found in 83% of the World's Tap Water".  It has even been repoted in some bottled water.  Everyone is worried about what it might do to humans and animals with prolonged exposure, but no one knows the consequences yet.  So, if you believe what you can't see can't hurt you, then you can skip the rest of this blog.  However, if you would rather be safe-than-sorry, then there are things you can do about it right now. There are at least three (3) technologies that can be utilized to remove micro-plastics from the water supply, but before I address that, what about water treatment devices that are made of plastic?  Can't they also leach plastic?  Good question... and the facts are that extremely cheap plastic products can leach plastic, but the plastic utilized in the manafacture of high quality water treatment equipment typically contains high-density plastics made of products which pose no threat of leaching. So, if you are dealing with a reputable company, the odds are the plastic used is non-leaching.  Laboratories have been using plastics for years with no leaching in analytical process which require there be absolutely no leaching.

Three Technologies to Remove Micro-plastics

Carbon Block Filtration - Typically, the smallest plastic particles are approximately 2.5 microns, but most are  substantially bigger. Therefore, a carbon block filter enginerred for lead reduction (approximately 0.5 microns)  will do a credible job. Undersink Carbon Block Filtration Systems are extremely common. Electro-Adhesion - The US Water Pulsar Disrupter Filter uses Electro-Adhesion to filter out particles to sub-micron levels.  Not only can it remove plastics, but it also removes bacteria, cysts, virus, arsenic, chromium 6, lead and other heavy metals. Reverse Osmosis -  This technology seperates the water from the contaminants and filters down to below .0001 microns so it obviously is a very viable method. Reverse Osmosis can be utilized as a whole-house system or undersink option. These technologies can be utilized as "stand-alone technologies" or in tandem with others.  In many cases, a point-of-use system (just for drinking water) or a whole house solution, may consist of all three technologies.  Do you want to just treat your drinking water, or all the water in your home?  There is no right answer - the choice is yours, but you can rest assured that the technology exists to remove micro-plastics from the water, even if the current technology does not tell us what the long-term effects of exposure to micro-plastics in the water might be.
December 28, 2017
Monte Hackwith
February 23, 2018 at 8:58 AM
Three Technologies to Remove Microplastics Carbon Block Filtration, Electro-Adhesion, Reverse Osmosis What about DI filtration? Thanks!
Mark Timmons
February 24, 2018 at 11:08 AM
That should probably work, but it may be cost prohibitive unless used in conjunction with Carbon Filtration and RO.
80% of Tap Water Contains Plastic – Straw Poll | Stpetersburgidol
March 5, 2018 at 6:07 PM
[…] Timmons, Mark. “Removing micro plastics from drinking water.” March 2017. […]
March 29, 2018 at 9:02 AM
The credibility of this article is diminished the lack of a spell check.
Mark Timmons
April 1, 2018 at 2:23 PM
Russ, How is the world could you leave out the word "by?" Is this the pot calling the kettle black? Hopefully, you are not an English teacher. We will get around to spellcheck soon... Could I at least get a B-? ;)
April 10, 2018 at 4:26 AM
I have been wanting to switch from water bottles for some time now. I have 4 options to choose from to clear my water totally and steering clear of plastic completely. 1.Use an all stainless faucet filter then pour that into an over the counter water distiliation system that is all stainless and glass to remove the flouride.(could not find a system that removes fluoride thats all stainles) 2.Continue buying water bottles(I view the report on their website) ,use that water in the distillation system. 3.Pour faucet filtered water over bone char/GAC mixture into hops brew mesh basket into a glass container(again flouride removal) 4. Do number 3 with water bottles. I am trying to find the best way.I like the fact that even though bottled water does have microplastics ,it taste better and I can view the water quality online.I just hope that the GAC/Bone char mixuture grabs those plastics. Decisions right!
April 20, 2018 at 4:08 AM
An article about filtering that doesn't filter the text it's written in??? Even after comments point it out???? :-)
Mark Timmons
April 28, 2018 at 1:41 PM
I think I fixed them. Re-grade it and get back to me.
Anonymous person
May 6, 2018 at 12:46 PM
you have a typo you wrote technoloy instead of technology
Mark Timmons
May 6, 2018 at 12:49 PM
Only one? I must be improving! ;)
Anonymous person
May 6, 2018 at 1:52 PM
Yeah. only 1. I just scanned the whole thing again.
Anonymous person
May 6, 2018 at 1:53 PM
Anonymous person
May 6, 2018 at 1:54 PM
Thx. this article waws really helpful.
Anonymous person
May 6, 2018 at 1:55 PM
C- to me
Anonymous person
May 6, 2018 at 1:57 PM
Carbon Block Filtration – Typically, the smallest plastic particles are approximately 2.5 microns, but most are substantially bigger. Therefore, a carbon block filter enginerred... (engineered, make that two typos.)
Dallis Smith
October 4, 2018 at 8:19 AM
I spend my summers in Georgian. I boil water from the bay for drinking. I then put the water through a Brita filter. Does this process remove microplastics.
Mark Timmons
October 7, 2018 at 10:43 PM
hazel m roe
November 5, 2018 at 6:02 AM
will a berky filter and distiller remove plastics
Mark Timmons
November 5, 2018 at 8:31 AM
Maybe... It dfepends upon the water...
Rick Miami, FL
November 24, 2018 at 1:05 PM
Mark, First of all, thank you for writing this article. I appreciate you taking the time to research, write, and publish. I am also appreciative of the fact that I can ask questions directly to an expert. Someone previously asked a question that mentioned distillation. I have been looking at different types of home distillers as a potential method of removing micro plastics. However, it is challenging to find information on distillation with respect to removal of micro plastics. Do you think you could please provide some insight into this? Any information would be most appreciated. Thank you.
Mark Timmons
November 29, 2018 at 10:19 PM
I am not a big fan of distillation: Too much energy and too much maintanance. I rarely would recommend the technology.
December 16, 2018 at 10:40 PM
Hi Mark, I just read this article, and am hoping you also have some insight into how to manage water filtration in the case where a pressure tank is necessary. My water comes from the well on my property, and so I have a pump in the well and a pressure tank in the basement to source, contain and distribute the water in the house. Recently I have looked into buying a new pressure tank, and discover that my only choice is a tank that has a polypropylene liner with a heavy butyl diaphragm. I do not know (or believe) that these materials are inert, and in any event the pipes and connectors are often plastic. Is there a filtration system that would address the micro-particles that might be released in this scenario? Looking forward to hearing your thoughts or suggestions -- Best, Melissa
Mark Timmons
December 17, 2018 at 8:54 AM
Melissa, Fine sediment filtration along with prolonged-contact granualr activated carbon filtration followed by reverse osmosis would be my recommendation. There is a lot of plastic in some of those but it is of the type that should not be released into the water. We utilize this same type of system for laboratory water where there can be absolutely nothing in the water or it interferes with testing. If you want an estimate, we would have to see a good water analaysis and a system such as that would start at $6,000 to $7,000.
August 15, 2019 at 2:46 PM
Hello, after browsing the site, I don't know that US Water Systems will have a product for me, but perhaps you can provide me with a bit of guidance in what route I should go based on your expertise. I'm currently in SW Asia where there is not any potable running water; all of our drinking water comes from 500ml plastic bottles of 'natural water' sourced out of Qatar. It has a distinct taste/smell to it and the bottles sit on pallets out in the sun (both in storage, and at drop-off points) for a few months at a time. Are there any passive systems that you would recommend to at least make drinking it more pleasant, if not safer (the joke is, it's cancer-water... but who knows?) Appreciate any thoughts you might have.
Mark Timmons
August 15, 2019 at 8:04 PM
I have to ask a question first before I can answer: Are you saying that there is no water where you are?
December 18, 2019 at 1:14 PM
what specifically is the way carbon filters remove microplastics from the water. Is there a way that carbon filters could remove just microplastics and nothing else for ocean cleanup?
Mark Timmons
December 22, 2019 at 10:34 AM
They are simply removed by mechanical filtration. Most micro-plastics are over 2 microns, so a .5 micron carbon block will do the trick... or you could have a .5 micron filter as well.