American Journal of Biochemistry and Biotechnology

Impact of Ultra Violet Radiation on Polyethylene Packaged Water Exposed at Varying Conditions: Are we Drinking Micro-Plastics?

James Matthew Anayo, Victor Eshu Okpashi and Ikechukwu N.E. Onwurah

DOI : 10.3844/ajbbsp.2018.20.28

American Journal of Biochemistry and Biotechnology

Volume 14, Issue 1

Pages 20-28


The public is worried about how their health is impacted by microplastics in sachet water. This awareness has repercussion for water producing factories and public health organization in managing health hazard associated with microplastic ingestion. Many countries in Africa, with concern to Nigeria, the act of packaging water in polyethylene materials by water producing factories has become accustomed. These packaged products are popularly called pure water or sachets water. The packaged materials are made of antioxidants, stabilizers, plasticizers, lubricants, antimicrobials, anti-static and anti-blocking agents. Heat hindrance agents are usually incorporated to improve functionality of polyethylene. It was conceived that the polyethylene material if exposed to sun light radiation over a period of time, its components may leach into the potable water due to photolytic, photo-oxidative and thermo-oxidative reactions caused by fragmentation of the polyethylene material. This research was designed to evaluate the water quality/safety of polyethylene sachet-packaged exposed to direct sunlight at different days. Eighteen polyethylene packaged water were sampled from three different factories - Lion water, Galaxy and Ashor water in Nsukka area of Enugu State. They were exposed to sunlight at 31 to 33°C for (24, 48, 72, 96 and 120 h), respectively. Agilent gas chromatography tandem mass spectroscopy was used to analyze the exposed and unexposed (control) packaged water. Organic compounds such as low molecular weight substituted hydrocarbons, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, trichloromethane, benzene, limonene, xylene, toluene and 2-hexanone were detected in all the exposed samples. These micoplastics which leached into water has been listed by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry as potential human carcinogens. The concern now is whether we are drinking micoplastics. The only way out of this perceived health risk is to change the packaging material to prevent ingestion of microplastics in water.


© 2018 James Matthew Anayo, Victor Eshu Okpashi and Ikechukwu N.E. Onwurah. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.