Is Drinking Water In Malaysia Safe From BPA?
Bisphenol A (commonly known as BPA) is a substance widely used in the production of plastics with a huge global demand. It is often detected in the wastewater produced by households and factories and ends up in rivers or oceans as it cannot be fully removed by sewage treatment, according to studies done in Greece and Spain. Even though BPA is quickly metabolized and removed from human body through urine, there is a risk of human exposure as suggested by biomonitoring studies. Long term exposure to BPA is related to health problems such as diabetes, heart disease and endocrine disruptive issue.It is important to study BPA in water especially when it is used for human consumption. As much as 98% of Malaysia water supply comes from rivers which receive wastewater before undergoing water treatment processes. Thus, BPA levels in river water, tap water, and bottled mineral water awere measured in this study with a specific focus on Langat River, Selangor.
BPA in River Water
BPA was detected in most of the river water samples with a lower concentration at upstream and higher concentration at downstream which received wastewater from sewage treatment plants, factories and households located upstream. However, the BPA levels were highest in water samples collected from source of pollutants such as industrial area focusing on the manufacturing of plastic and PVC, engineering products, wood products, textile and electrical items; sewage treatment plants in which less than 75% do not comply with Department of Environment regulation and also wet market. These results showed that factories, households and sewage wastewater are major man made sources of BPA in the river water.
BPA in Tap Water
Coming from Langat River, the river water was treated using conventional water treatment processes before being channeled for household usage. BPA was detected in all tap water samples in lower concentration compared to river water, showing that the water treatment processes are able to remove BPA from the water. The highest levels of BPA in tap water was found in taps fitted with water filters or PVC piping, suggesting that these devices can pollute the supplied water.
BPA in Bottled Mineral Water
The levels of BPA in mineral water was measured when buying off the shelf (room temperature) and after improper storage at 50°C for 3 days. Samples stored at room temperature had lower levels of BPA compared to those stored at higher temperature. However, a study done in Japan showed no increase in BPA level after storage at higher temperature for 8 hours even though it was detected in all bottled mineral water samples while another study done by bottling water in PET containers showed a slight increase in BPA after storage for 19 weeks. The presence of BPA in bottled mineral watater is most likely caused by contamination during production processes but the increase in BPA level after storage at higher temperature suggests that the contamination came from the packaging material itself.
This study showed that BPA is a commonly found pollutant in Malaysian river water with suspected sources from factories and sewage
treatment plants. It can be detected in tap and bottled mineral water in low level which slightly increases in poorly stored condition. However, exposure towards BPA from drinking water itself is likely to be low.
Source: Santhi, V. A., Sakai, N., Ahmad, E. D. & Mustafa, A. M.. (2012). Occurence of bisphenol A in surface water, drinking water and plasma from Malaysia with exposure assessment from consumption of drinking water. Science of the Total Environment, 427 – 428: 332 – 338
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