Kenyans quenching thirst with ‘toxic’ water, shows study

Bernard Gitau and Agencies @benagitau

Kenyans were yesterday put on high alert over the use of uncertified bottled water after a study showed more than 90 per cent of popular water brands contain microplastics.

Scientists based at the State University of New York, in Fredonia, conducted the study and analysed water bought in Kenya and eight other countries across the world.

In the study, analysis of 259 bottles from 19 locations in nine countries from 11 brands found an average of 325 plastic particles per litre of the water. Of the 259 bottles tested, only 17 were free of plastics, according to the study.

The study was commissioned by a journalism project Orb Media to analyse the bottled water bought in Kenya, US, China, Brazil, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Lebanon and Thailand.

With this development Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) has warned Kenyans against the use of uncertified bottled drinking water. In a statement, Kebs said the distribution of uncertified water was exposing the public to health hazards associated with consumption of substandard water. According to Kebs managing director Charles Ongwae.

“It is a contravention of the Standards Act to manufacture or offer for sale any product unless the product demonstrates conformity to the respective Kenya standard by having a valid permit to use the Standardisation Mark”.

Though KEBs has registered over 600 water bottling firms, the study indicates most of the brands are contaminated hence a public health concern with millions of Kenyans depending on it for safety. With this study, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has announced a review into the potential risks of plastic in drinking water.

A WHO spokesman said that although there was not yet any evidence on impacts on human health, it was aware it was an emerging area of concern. Earlier a health report from the University of Exeter in United Kingdom revealed almost 90 per cent of teenagers have ‘gender-bending chemicals’ Bisphenol A (BPA) that also causes infertility.

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