Research Article Open Access

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

James Matthew Anayo1, Victor Eshu Okpashi1 and Ikechukwu N.E. Onwurah1
  • 1 University of Nigeria, Nigeria


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.

American Journal of Biochemistry and Biotechnology
Volume 14 No. 1, 2018, 20-28


Submitted On: 23 October 2017 Published On: 29 January 2018

How to Cite: Anayo, J. M., Okpashi, V. E. & Onwurah, I. N. (2018). Impact of Ultra Violet Radiation on Polyethylene Packaged Water Exposed at Varying Conditions: Are we Drinking Micro-Plastics?. American Journal of Biochemistry and Biotechnology, 14(1), 20-28.

  • 10 Citations



  • Microplastics
  • Polyethylene
  • Sunlight
  • Radiation
  • Water Quality
  • Exposure