Does Reverse Osmosis Remove Microplastics: The Magic of RO

Reverse Osmosis: the Solution for Microplastics in Drinking Water

Are you concerned about microplastics in your drinking water? If so, you may be asking does reverse osmosis remove microplastics.

Microplastics are tiny pieces of plastic less than 5mm long. They can come from larger plastic items like bottles, clothing, and other trash that break down over time into smaller pieces.

Microplastics are everywhere – 92% of all tap water and 93% of bottled water are contaminated with them.

The health impacts of consuming microplastics are not fully understood. But experts are concerned they cause adverse health impacts like obesity, diabetes, and heart disease, as well as cancer, neural disorders, and reproductive problems.

Reverse osmosis is the most effective way of removing microplastics from your drinking water. Continue reading to learn more about microplastics and how you can use reverse osmosis filtration to protect your family.

What Are Microplastics Scanning electron microscope image of microplastic in drinking water

Microplastics, sometimes referred to as micro plastics, are tiny pieces of plastic measuring between five millimeters (5 mm) and one micrometer (1 μm) in size. These microplastics include beads used in facial scrubs and toothpastes as well as fibers shed by synthetic fabrics like polyester or nylon when they are laundered.

They are widely used in most manufacturing processes to make paints, consumer products, and packaging.

Where do microplastics come from?

Microplastics come from microbeads that are used in consumer products and the breakdown of plastic products. Sources include:

  • tire dust
  • fishing gear
  • paint dust
  • microbeads
  • plastic bottles
  • food packaging

How much microplastic do we consume?

Microplastics are found in drinking water all over the world. A 2017 study tested tap water from 12 countries and discovered 83% contained microplastics! 94% of the samples from the US contained microplastics.

The presence of microplastics in tap and bottled water suggests that they may be found in a variety of processed foods and beverages that utilize water during production.

It is estimated that the average American consumes between 39,000 and 52,000 microplastic particles each year [source: National Geographic]. Over your lifetime, you will consume about 44 pounds of microplastic.

Read our article on Microplastic Contamination in Bottled Water.

Health Impacts from Consuming Microplastics

The jury is still out on the definitive harm that microplastics cause to human health. Health expert worry that these particles may absorb other pollutants that then enter our bodies when we drink water contaminated with microplastics.

Microplastics may also serve as transportation vehicles for harmful diseases such as bacteria, viruses, and parasites that are prevalent in oceanic environments.

Microplastics, in particular the tiny ones, may absorb endocrine disrupters. This might have a detrimental impact on animal fertility and even human health. Even very low dosages of endocrine disrupters may have significant consequences.

Microplastics are a serious risk to the health of aquatic organisms. They have been detected in the ocean along the shoreline and at the bottom depths. Marine animals of all types consume these contaminants. Aquatic studies demonstrate that microplastics cause harm to digestive tracks and can stunt growth.

What Technologies Removes Microplastics from Waterreverse osmosis filter to remove microplastics from water

There are several treatment technologies that you can use to remove microplastics from your drinking water. Reverse osmosis systems, activated carbon filters, and sediment filters are the three most effective treatment options.

  1. Reverse osmosis filters: Reverse osmosis filters are the most effective for removing microplastics from water. RO can remove particles as small as 0.0001 microns which includes microplastics.
  2. Activated carbon filters: Activated carbon filters are also effective at removing microplastics from drinking water by adsorbing the particles onto the surface of the activated carbon. Carbon also acts as a crude particle filter and can remove some suspended solids.
  3. Sediment filters: Sediment filter cartridges are used to remove turbidity, suspended solids, and particles from your drinking water. Depending on the filter size, sediment filters may remove some of the microplastics in your water but are not small enough to remove all of it.

It is important to note that activated carbon and sediment filters are not 100% effective in removing all microplastics from water. The only technology that can remove 99.9+% of microplastics is reverse osmosis.

Does reverse osmosis remove microplastics?

Reverse osmosis is a popular water filtration method that has been found to effectively remove many types of microplastics from drinking water. Reverse osmosis works by pushing water through a semipermeable membrane, which traps contaminants such as microplastics, while allowing clean water to pass through.

The size of the microplastics that can be removed by reverse osmosis varies, but studies have shown that this method can remove microplastics as small as 0.001 micrometers in size. While reverse osmosis can be effective at removing microplastics, it’s important to note that this method can be expensive and require regular maintenance. Additionally, reverse osmosis can remove minerals and other beneficial substances from water along with the microplastics, so it’s important to consider the overall quality of the water being filtered.

The reverse osmosis process forces water molecules through a semipermeable membrane that removes contaminants like microplastics, pharmaceuticals, and lead. The membrane has thousands of tiny pores approximately 0.0001 micron (μm) in diameter – water passes through these pores, but larger particles – such as microplastics – are filtered out.

If you are concerned about the health risks associated with consuming microplastics, installing a reverse osmosis system is the best way to ensure that your water.

Under sink reverse osmosis filter to remove micro plastics

I have an undersink reverse osmosis filter in my kitchen. You may want something similar in your home.

Are reverse osmosis systems this small effective at microplastic removal? Yes, a point-of-use RO filter removes microplastics extremely well.

Check Pricing on Amazon

Removing Microplastics – How Well Does RO Perform

Water filter size versus microplastics

Reverse osmosis systems use a membrane with pores that have a small opening. The typical RO membrane has pores with an average diameter of 0.0001 μm in size. These membranes remove virtually all contaminants that are larger than the pore size.

Microplastics range in size from 1 μm to 5,000 μm. This is significantly larger than the typical membrane pore size. This is why reverse osmosis removes 99.9+% of all microplastics from drinking water.

You may be asking – if microplastics are so much bigger than the RO filter, why don’t RO filters remove 100% of them? From a practical perspective, RO filters do remove 100% of microplastics. 

However, the scientists and engineers who design and study water treatment systems are very precise. The test methods that are used to quantify the amount of microplastic in water aren’t accurate enough to demonstrate that all of the contaminants have been remove. It’s nit-picky to be certain, but that is how testing is done. In the final analysis, RO filtration removes micro-plastics

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Does activated carbon filtration remove microplastics?

Activated carbon can be used to remove microplastics from drinking water. However, carbon filtration does not remove 100% of the microplastics.

Activated carbon filtration is effective at removing particles larger than 0.0001 μm in size (the same order of magnitude as microplastics). It adsorbs these contaminants onto the surface of the carbon granules. A small amount of the microplastics will pass through these filters as well.

Do refrigerator filters remove microplastics?

Refrigerator filters use activated carbon and sediment filters to remove chlorine and taste from water. These filters remove some of the microplastics from water, but not all of it.

Do Brita pitcher filters remove microplastics?

Brita pitcher filers use a combination of activated carbon and sediment filters to treat water. These technologies are known to remove some amount of microplastics from water but not all of it. Brita filters can be used to remove some microplastics from drinking water, but they are not as effective at removing them as reverse osmosis.

Do Epic pitcher filters remove microplastics?

The combination of activated carbon and sediment filters used in Epic pitcher filtration systems is known to remove some amount microplastics from water, but it’s not efficient at removing them all. This means that you may find tiny plastics in your water. Reverse osmosis is the most effective treatment method for microplastics.

Do FloWater filters remove microplastics?

FloWater filters use both activated carbon and sediment to purify water. These technologies are known for removing some microplastics from your drink, but not all of this contaminant can be removed by this method.

If you want to remove all microplastics from your drinking water, you should use reverse osmosis.

Do PUR filters remove microplastics?

PUR water filters remove some level of microplastics from water. However, these pitcher filters are not as effective as reverse osmosis for removing this contaminant.

Do Zero Water filters remove microplastics?

The Zero Water filter removes some microplastics from drinking water, but it’s not as effective at removing them than reverse osmosis.

Read my article Do ZeroWater filters remove PFAS.

Do ProOne filters remove microplastics?

The combination of activated carbon and sediment filters used in ProOne’s water treatment process is known to remove some amount microplastics from drinking water. However, they can’t remove 100% of this contaminant.

If you want the most effective treatment for microplastics in your drinking water, you should use a reverse osmosis filter system.

Can water filtration remove microplastics?

Water filtration systems are effective at removing some microplastics from drinking water, but not all types and sizes of microplastics can be filtered out. The size of the particles is the most important variable in how effective water filters are against microplastics.

Final Take on Reverse Osmosis Filters to Treat Microplastics

If you’ve been wondering how to remove microplastics from your water, there are several options. Reverse osmosis is the best method to remove this hazard from your drinking water.

Reverse osmosis works by forcing water through a semipermeable membrane under pressure which causes dissolved solids and most impurities to be left behind in the permeate (osmosis water) while allowing pure water to pass into the product stream. This technology can filter out more than 99% of most contaminants, including microplastics.

Particle filtration is also effective for removing microplastics from water.

Boch Richard

Richard Boch is a chemical engineer responsible for designing water filtration systems for industrial and residential customers. He has more than 20 years of experience with ion exchange, activated carbon, and reverse osmosis. Richard's expertise has made him a go-to source for municipalities and businesses looking to improve their water quality. When he's not working, Richard enjoys spending time with his wife and two young children.

Recent Posts