Iceland Mag

10 Reykjavik

Iceland Mag

Food & Drink

Microplastic pollution in Reykjavík drinking water only a fraction of global average

By Staff

  • Water One of the natural resources Iceland has in huge quantities is clean water. Photo/Vilhelm Gunnarsson

According to measurements by Veitur, the Reykjavík Municipal Water Utility, microplastic pollution is present in the water supply of Reykjavík. However, the level of microplastic pollutin is significantly below the average levels found in international studies. Measurements of samples from foreign water supplies have produced results which are 20 to 400 times higher than those Veitur found in the Reykjavík water supply.

This is the first study of microplastic pollution in Icelandic water.

Read more: The easiest money saving tip in Iceland: Don't buy bottled water!

Microplastic pollution is a rising concern world wide. It is feared microplastic pollutin can have various serious health effects on humans. Microplastic pollutin is made up of small plastic particles, defined as any particle smaller than 5 mm in diameter. 

Clean drinking water
Following the publication of a report by Orb Media in September of last year, which showed that 83% of samples of tap water taken internationally contained microplastic pollution, Veitur decided to investigate the Reykjavík water supply. Reykjavík was not included in the September study. The UK newspaper The Guardian reported at the time that the average number of microplastic ranged from 19 for every 5 liters (1.3 gallons) in Europe to 48 in the US. 

Veitur took samples at six different locations in the Reykjavík water system. Due to the high level of uncertainty in small samples Veitur chose to take very large samples, 10-150 litres (2.6-40 gallons). The saples revealed that 1-2 plastic particles were found in every 5 liters (1.3 gallons) of the water samples. This is significantly lower than the international average. 

Veitur notes in a press release that the study is not conclusive, and that further studies are necessary to confirm the finding.  

microplastic pollution

Microplastic pollution Vertical axis: quantity of microplastic particles, per litre. Horizontal axis: First six columns names of stations where samples were collected. Seventh column: Foreign average. Legend: Blue: Fibres, Green: Chips, Red: beads. Image/veitur


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