TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- The results of a study on microplastics in water in Taiwan found that 44 percent of tap water had plastic specks, while seawater was also found to be heavily polluted with microplastics, announced the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) yesterday.
Since the end of last year, the EPA has been investigating the content of micro-plastics in tap water, seawater, sand gravel and shellfish in Taiwan by means of a thermal contact test, fluorescence staining and microscopic spectroscopy. Yesterday, the EPA announced the results of the survey, which showed that most of the samples have tested positive for the presence of microplastics.
For the tap water survey, the EPA took 100 samples of tap water and 23 samples of unfiltered water from 89 water purification plants nationwide. Of the unfiltered water, 61 percent contained pieces of microplastic, while 44 percent of the tap water was found to contain plastic specks.
The unfiltered water was found to contain eight pieces of microplastic per liter of water, while the tap water was not much better, with six pieces per liter. The plastics detected were all fibrous and the main components were Polyethylene terephthalate (PET), nylon and Polyethylene (PE).
As for sea water, the EPA collected seawater, sand and gravel from seven shellfish farms and two popular beaches for swimming -- Fulong and Kenting. Of the seawater samples taken, plastic pollution was found to range from 1,000 to 18,500 pieces of microplastic per kiloliter of seawater.
Of the beach sand samples taken, 26 to 2,400 pieces of microplastic were found per kilogram of sand. Of the cultured and wild shellfish sampled, including mussels, oysters, scallops and clams, 0.2 to 5.2 pieces of microplastic per gram were found.
EPA laboratory section chief Yang Hsi-nan (楊喜男) said that the main types of plastics found in the beach and shellfish samples were Polyethylene terephthalate (PET), nylon and Polyethylene (PE), Polypropylene (PP), Polystyrene (PS), and Polyvinyl chloride (PVC). Yang said that these types of plastics are typically used in bottle caps, plastic bags, plastic bottles, straws and fishing nets.
The agency in February established a marine waste disposal platform and drew up action plans for marine waste management. However, EPA Deputy Minister Chan Shun-kuei (詹順貴) said that ultimately the refuse must be stopped at the source by having the public change their behavior and ending the use of disposable plastic items in their everyday lives.
EPA images showing microplastics in shellfish (left) and in beach sand (right). (CNA image)
Closeup of plastic debris washed up on the beach. (EPA image)
Sample taken of beach sand. (CNA image)