WHO / MICROPLASTICS

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21-Aug-2019 00:03:30
The World Health Organization (WHO) today released an analysis of current research related to microplastics in drinking-water, calling for a reduction in plastic pollution to benefit the environment and reduce human exposure. WHO

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STORY: WHO / MICROPLASTICS
TRT: 3:30
SOURCE: WHO
RESTRICTIONS: NONE
LANGUAGE: ENGLISH /NATS

DATELINE: 21 AUGUST 2019, GENEVA, SWITZERLAND /FILE

SHOTLIST:

21 AUGUST 2019, GENEVA, SWITZERLAND

1. Med shot, Gordon talking with colleagues
2. Zoom out, Gordon talking with colleagues
3. SOUNDBITE (English) Bruce Gordon, Coordinator, Water, Sanitation, Hygiene and Health, WHO Department of Public Health, Social and Environmental Determinants of Health:
“From the health review, the current evidence is not suggesting any cause for concern. However, there are big data gaps. This is a report that looked at drinking water alone. When we look in the future at food and airborne particulates, microplastics particulates, the case may evolve. And a major concern for research is to look at the wider environment and also to make sure that when we look at microplastics, we look with standardized methods so we can have reproducible and comparable metrics, so we can understand where the problem is going.”
4. Close up, report
5. SOUNDBITE (English) Bruce Gordon, Coordinator, Water, Sanitation, Hygiene and Health, WHO Department of Public Health, Social and Environmental Determinants of Health:
“So, the health risks can be basically classified in three pillars. The first pillar is the physical hazards presented by the particle itself. So even though plastic is generally considered inert, doesn’t chemically react, it can diffuse in the human body and there were concerns about that. So we looked at that. The second is the chemicals in the plastics themselves. And the third is bacterial colonization of the particles.”
6. Close up, hands washing
7. SOUNDBITE (English) Bruce Gordon, Coordinator, Water, Sanitation, Hygiene and Health, WHO Department of Public Health, Social and Environmental Determinants of Health:
“Our main concern is absolutely having safe drinking water. We know now in the world that two billion people are exposed to water that's contaminated with human faeces and that causes immediate illness, illnesses like cholera and typhoid that kill. So regulators need to keep their priorities straight and focus on basic disinfection, infiltration of water supplies. Which in most cases will reduce the amount of microplastics anyway.”

FILE – NOVEMBER 2010, HAITI

8. Tilt up, garbage to river

21 AUGUST 2019, GENEVA, SWITZERLAND

9. SOUNDBITE (English) Bruce Gordon, Coordinator, Water, Sanitation, Hygiene and Health, WHO Department of Public Health, Social and Environmental Determinants of Health:
“WHO is recommending that major work be done to better manage plastic pollution. This is the root cause of this whole issue and you know, it's a complicated one. It has everything to do with better recycling, better consumer behavior, better policies. So we need to clean up our environment.”

FILE – JULY 2015, COTE D’IVOIRE

10. Various shots, garbage

STORYLINE:

The World Health Organization (WHO) today released an analysis of current research related to microplastics in drinking-water, calling for a reduction in plastic pollution to benefit the environment and reduce human exposure.

“The current evidence is not suggesting any cause for concern,” said Bruce Gordon, WHO Coordinator for Water, Sanitation, Hygiene and Health. “A major concern for research is to look at the wider environment and also to make sure that when we look at microplastics, we look with standardized methods so we can have reproducible and comparable metrics, so we can understand where the problem is going.”

According to the analysis, which summarizes the latest knowledge on microplastics in drinking-water, microplastics larger than 150 micrometers are not likely to be absorbed in the human body and uptake of smaller particles is expected to be limited. Absorption and distribution of very small microplastic particles including in the nano size range may, however, be higher, although the data is extremely limited.

Gordon said “our main concern is absolutely having safe drinking water. We know now in the world that two billion people are exposed to water that's contaminated with human faeces and that causes immediate illness, illnesses like cholera and typhoid that kill. So regulators need to keep their priorities straight and focus on basic disinfection, infiltration of water supplies. Which in most cases will reduce the amount of microplastics anyway.”

Further research is needed to obtain a more accurate assessment of exposure to microplastics and their potential impacts on human health. These include developing standard methods for measuring microplastic particles in water; more studies on the sources and occurrence of microplastics in fresh water; and the efficacy of different treatment processes.

WHO recommends drinking-water suppliers and regulators prioritize removing microbial pathogens and chemicals that are known risks to human health, such as those causing deadly diarrhoeal diseases. This has a double advantage: wastewater and drinking-water treatment systems that treat faecal content and chemicals are also effective in removing microplastics.

Wastewater treatment can remove more than 90 percent of microplastics from wastewater, with the highest removal coming from tertiary treatment such as filtration. Conventional drinking-water treatment can remove particles smaller than a micrometer. A significant proportion of the global population currently does not benefit from adequate water and sewage treatment. By addressing the problem of human exposure to faecally contaminated water, communities can simultaneously address the concern related to microplastics.
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WHO
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unifeed190821d
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