The environmental group Greenpeace recently conducted tests on water samples from eight rivers and streams in Hong Kong and discovered half of all tested samples contained microplastics, which may affect public health.
Of the tested samples, Ng Tung Chai stream in Tai Po and Tai Cho stream at Tai Mo Shan were found to be most contaminated, with 24 pieces of microplastics per liter.
Greenpeace raised concerns that microplastics may contaminate local drinking water, leading to severe impacts on public health. Microplastic contamination has been linked to negative impacts on the nervous, immune, and endocrine systems in the human body.
The organization has urged the government to regularly monitor microplastic content in water and encourages businesses to provide plastic-free options for consumers.
Greenpeace has suggested that the surge in visitors to the countryside during the pandemic may be to blame for the increased levels of microplastics in the water.
The tests conducted by the organization looked for polypropylene in particular – a commonly-used plastic found in a broad range of goods including tote bags, food containers, packaging, disposable cutlery, plates, and more.
The Water Supplies Department responded that they have put microplastics on their watchlist in April this year. Plans to implement methods to detect microplastics in water are scheduled no later than January of 2024.
The department also stated that drinking water supplied to homes near the Ng Tung Chai stream and Tai Cho stream has been treated by water treatment plants and is suitable for consumption.