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How to Detect Microplastics in Drinking Water – 4 Ways to Test

How To Detect Microplastics In Drinking Water


Microplastics are less than 5 millimeters but can be exposed through consumer products, including clothing, cosmetics, and cleaning products. When they are ingested, they can cause inflammation and hormonal disruption. Before removing them, it’s very crucial to know how to detect microplastic in water.

You can test them by visual inspection and laboratory tests using Raman or FTIR spectroscopy. After testing them, it will be easier for you to select a suitable treatment system for you and your family’s health.

In this article, we will be describing the detection of microplastics and the solution to get rid of them. Stay tuned!

Can I Detect Microplastic in Drinking Water?

Yes, we can test microplastics, but they are very tiny and can not be seen with the naked eye. You won’t be able to tell whether your tap water includes plastic particles by looking at, smelling, or tasting it because they have no flavor or scent. Therefore, water testing is the best option to detect microplastics in drinking water. 

You have the option of choosing a specific water quality test that just looks for microplastics or a comprehensive test that looks for microplastics and other typical drinking water contaminants.

We suggest conducting a laboratory test to detect microplastics in your water. The State Water Board estimates that each sample will cost between $1,000 and $2,000 to test, which is a significant price to pay for the service. 

A laboratory test involves taking a sample of your tap water and then sending it for analysis. You will get your results in a week. If microplastics are present in your drinking water, then you can decide on a proper treatment system for it. 

4 Effective Ways To Test Microplastics In Water

Effective Ways To Test Microplastics In Wate
Image Credit: Unsplash

There are various methods to detect microplastic in water, such as DIY Test Kit and Visual Inspection, which is conducted under a microscope. At the same time, Raman Spectroscopy or FTIR Spectroscopy are the laboratory methods.

Here is how you can test. 

1. DIY Test kit 

This is the cost-effective method to detect microplastic in water. With the help of a kit, you can easily detect microplastic at home simply by taking a water sample. 

The results may be inaccurate and not useful; it is better to move on to laboratory testing.

2. Visual Inspection

Visual inspection is another technique to detect microplastic under a microscope or Stereomicroscopes. This method is used to identify the physical characteristics of the plastics, such as particle form, size, and color. It may cost you between $50 to $200 per sample. 

3. Raman Spectroscopy

The laboratory uses Raman spectroscopy by bombarding a laser beam on the water sample. This beam interacts with microplastics, which shows the image of “fingerprints,”  which provide information about the types of plastic present. 

This technique is highly effective for detecting microplastics, even in complex environmental samples like water, which can cost you around $200-$400 per sample. 

4. Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR) 

FTIR is another laboratory method used to analyze the sample’s chemical composition. It detects the absorption of particular light wavelengths by microplastics in water samples when infrared radiation is present. Like Raman, it also creates an image for plastic detection. Further, it costs you the same as Raman spectroscopy. 

Raman and FTIR are both useful, but you can choose depending on your specific needs. FTIR gives detailed identification, while Raman spectroscopy is preferred for non-invasive analysis. 

How To Remove Microplastics In Water?

How To Remove Microplastics In Water

Microplastics are tiny, about 0.7 microns in size, and slip through the pores if a typical filter media is used. Therefore, specialized types of filters, such as reverse osmosis, carbon block filters, and distillers, can be used to remove them. 

Whatever the type and size of microplastic present in your water, we’ve suggested three best ways to remove it. 

1. Reverse Osmosis Water Filtration System

Reverse osmosis (RO) plays a useful role in eliminating microplastics from drinking water. In RO, water is passed over a semi-permeable of commonly 0.0001 microns at a high pressure, which is enough to trap microplastic particles. 

You can install them on the countertop or under the sink. Some of our top picks are Waterdrop g3p800 and U1 By RKIN water filtration systems that are ideal for your home.

2. Carbon Block Filters 

They efficiently remove 100% of microplastics from the drinking water. Carbon block filter media has a pore size as small as 0.5 microns, which easily blocks the plastic particles and traps them.  

You can install them with faucet filters, water pitcher filters, and countertop filters. Our favorite pick includes a Clearlyfiltered water pitcher. 

3. Water Distillers

They are the most efficient systems to remove 99% of the contaminants. In this system, water is heated to its boiling point, which causes it to evaporate and leave behind pollutants, such as microplastics, heavy metals, microorganisms, minerals, salts, and chemicals.

 The vaporized water is then condensed into liquid form, resulting in purified water free from these contaminants.

The floor-standing and countertop units are the most common type of home water distiller that you can install.


In a final verdict, the current consequences express less danger of microplastic than other water contamination agents. However, it is compulsory to detect and treat them. The choice of method depends on the specific research or regulatory requirements, as well as the characteristics of the samples being analyzed. Thanks to the experts, they have introduced detection methods and appreciation for making specialized media to remove them easily. 

Frequently Asked Question

How Does Microplastic Get into the Drinking Water?

Microplastics can enter drinking water through various ways, such as rainwater and surface runoff, wastewater effluents discharged from sewage, transported by wind and atmospheric deposition, the degradation of larger plastic items, such as plastic bottles and containers, plastic manufacturing industries, Improper disposal of plastics, such as plastic bags, bottles, and packaging materials. 

What are the Safe Levels of Microplastics in Drinking Water?

The World Health Organization (WHO) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are still working on their safe levels and potential health risks associated with microplastic ingestion. However, they had not finalized any limitations yet. 

What are the Health Effects of Microplastic in Drinking Water?

The health effects of microplastics in drinking water are still an area of active research. However, their long-term exposure evidence found that they are associated with physical irritation and abrasion in the respiratory and digestive tracts, toxic or carcinogenic, and hormonal issues.

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