Skip to content

Plastic found in human digestive system for first time

9 different types of plastic found in human stools, a new study reveals.

In the first study of its kind, researchers found plastic particles in the stools of study participants living in Europe, Japan and Russia. 9 out of the 10 types of plastic tested for were found, including polypropylene and polyethylene terephthalate (1).

Although the study was small, researchers estimate that:

“more than 50% of the world population might have microplastics in their stools”.

Microplastics present in drinking water and the food chain

This study suggests that plastic particles may now be present throughout the food chain.

Last year we reported that microplastics contaminate 72% of UK tap water samples (2) and earlier this year, that microplastics are found in over 90% of bottled waters globally (3). We now know that soft drinks are similarly contaminated. Foods including fish and shellfish also contain microplastics.

Plastics in tap water
Plastic fibres in water. Image copyright Richard Kirby, BNPS.

How do microplastics affect human health?

We know from research on wild animals that plastic particles attract bacteria and toxic chemicals, which are released into the body after the plastics are ingested.

Studies on birds show that plastics ‘remodel the tiny fingerlike projections inside the small intestine, disrupt iron absorption and add to stress on the liver”.

The lead researcher of the new study, Philipp Schwabl, said:

“The smallest microplastic particles are capable of entering the bloodstream, the lymphatic system, and may even reach the liver,”(4)

Whilst we don’t yet fully understand the effects of plastics ingestion on human health, the government is so concerned that it launched an investigation (5). Dr Anne Marie Mahon at the Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology, who conducted an earlier study on plastic fibres in tap water, advises:

“We don’t know what the [health] impact is and for that reason we should follow the precautionary principle…”(6)

Avoid single-use plastic bottled water with PureH2O
We must stem the tide of plastics pollution

What can be done to protect us from microplastics?

Efforts to replace plastics with safer, environmentally sustainable alternatives must continue apace, coupled with recycling of existing plastics,  to prevent further pollution of our oceans and contamination of our food and water sources. These actions must be taken at every level, from governments and industry to individual households.

The good news is that it is possible to minimise your exposure to microplastics, right away. Water is the best way to hydrate – it’s essential to our health – but you don’t have to ingest plastics every time you drink a glass of water. Jug filters offer no protection from microplastics, but the advanced reverse osmosis purification process used by water purifiers from The Pure H2O Company do remove microplastics.

Minimise your exposure to microplastics with a PureH2O water purifier

The PureH2O Co’s technologically advanced reverse osmosis water purification systems remove plastics, plastic fibres and microplastics from tap water. They also remove other contaminants present in UK tap water, including pesticides, fertilisers, traces of hormones and medications and industrial chemicals. Not only that, they also remove naturally occurring impurities that compromise taste. What’s left is water as nature intended it; pure, safe and delicious. PureH2O pure water is purer by far than all bottled waters and is safe for everyone to drink.

PureH2O water purifiers fit snugly into a standard kitchen cupboard, so they integrate into your home without any fuss. We have purifiers for commercial buildings too, such as offices, restaurants and hotels. They work day in, day out to protect you from contaminants and impurities that water treatment plants, jug filters and other filtration methods can’t remove.

How to order your PureH2O water purifier.

Full details of our water purifiers for home can be found here, and for commercial venues here.

If you need any help selecting your model or would like to talk about how one of our advanced water purifiers can protect your health, please feel free to contact us. You can telephone 01483 617000 or email


1) Microplastics Found in Human Stools for the First Time Fiona Harvey & Jonathan Watts, The Guardian 22.10.18 accessed 312.10.18

2. Plastic fibres found in tap water around the world, study reveals, Damian Carrington, The Guardian 06.09.17 accessed 16.03.18

3. Plastic found in most bottled water, triggering World Health Organisation review, Stephen Walter, The Telegraph, 15.03.18 accessed 16.03.18

4 Harvey & Watts, as per reference 1.

5. UK to Investigate Human Health Impact of Microplastics Press Association, 04.11.16 The Guardian, accessed 31.10.18

6. Carrington, as per reference 2.


PureH2O Ltd manufactures, installs and maintains the world’s most innovative water purification systems and the most technologically advanced boiling, chilled and sparkling water taps. Since 1991 we have been committed to providing our domestic and commercial customers with the purest, safest, most sustainable choice of drinking water, which helps them reduce their environmental impact by avoiding single-use plastic bottled water.

+44 (0)1483 617000

© PUREH2O 2024. All Rights Reserved.
Unit 21 Boundary Business Centre Boundary Way, Woking, Surrey GU21 5DH. United Kingdom