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Sometimes our drinking water systems experience dangerous failures, such as the Flint lead poisoning disaster that made major news beginning in 2014. But outside those headline grabbing crises, how safe is our drinking.

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Newcastle University PHD student Max Kelly at the Benton Proctor and Gamble site in Newcastle, views washing machine filters, one with microfibers collected following a delicate wash (left) compared with a filter from a normal wash cycle showing less collected microfibers. Owen Humphreys / PA Images / Getty Images

The delicate wash cycle uses much more water than other settings, which triggers the release of hundreds of thousands of plastic microfibers, which travel down the drain and potentially into marine waterways, according to a new study published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology.

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From Arctic snow to the deep sea, microplastics have been found in some unusual places. Now, it turns out they could be lurking at the bottom of your cup of tea!

McGill University chemical engineering professor Nathalie Tufenkji decided to test tea bags after she was given one in a Montreal cafe that looked like it was made from plastic.

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Ben Birchall - PA Images / Contributor / Getty Images

The ocean isn't the only ecosystem threatened by microplastics.

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The WHO stressed that more research is needed on the potential health risks of microplastic ingestion. luchschen / iStock / Getty Images Plus

The UN's health agency on Thursday said that microplastics contained in drinking water posed a "low" risk at their current levels.

However, the World Health Organization (WHO) — in its first report on the potential health risks of microplastic ingestion — also stressed more research was needed to reassure consumers.

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Sea ice in Lancaster Sound, where researchers found surprisingly high concentrations of microplastics. Franco Banfi / WaterFrame / Getty Images

Two groups of researchers have found microplastics in Arctic ice and snow, Reuters reported Wednesday.

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bernie_photo / iStock / Getty Images

Want a drink to wash down that credit card?

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Microplastics have infiltrated the earth's largest ecosystem: the deep ocean.

Researchers at the Monterey Bay Aquarium and the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) used small drone submarines to take sea-water samples from the ocean surface all the way down to the floor, at 3,200 feet. They found that there were actually more microplastics 1,000 feet below sea level than there are in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, USA Today reported. The findings come as people around the world prepare to celebrate World Oceans Day Saturday and gives new insight into how plastics impact the entire marine environment.

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DESIREE MARTIN / AFP / Getty Images

What's the last thing you ate? Chances are you took a big bite of plastic.

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Underwater explorers say they've found plastic in deep ocean trench

An America man completed the deepest-ever solo underwater dive May 1. But when he reached the bottom of the Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench, he found that another representative of the human world had gotten there first: plastic.

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Plastic bags in landfills can be carried by wind and caught in trees. European Parliament / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

By Martin LaMonica

From its arrival decades ago, plastic has transformed modern life. But in 2018, the alarm over the plastic pollution crisis sounded louder than ever. On Earth Day, the United Nations issued its first State of Plastics report, calling for more recycling and better ways to manufacture and manage the material in its many forms.

At The Conversation, we took a broad view of plastic, working with scholars to explain not only the environmental and health effects but also its cultural contribution and the industries that handle plastic goods—and waste.

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