Lebanon has the second highest percentage of tap water contaminated with plastic fibers in the world, at 93.8 percent.

Coming in at the highest level, 94.4 percent of the tap water in United States is contaminated with micro-plastic, according to data compiled by Orb Media

Globally, more than 80 percent of tap water tested positive for the presence of plastic fibers.

But even more startling than the discovery itself, is that scientists aren't exactly sure what implication it has on human health. It could, however, increase the risk of cancer and other health problems.

Source: Orb Media

Could micro-plastics cause cancer?

"Microplastics have been shown to absorb toxic chemicals linked to cancer and other illnesses, and then release them when consumed by fish and mammals," Orb Media's report explains.

These microscopic fibers likely originate from everyday items such as clothing, carpets, and upholstery. 

"They could reach your household tap by contaminating local water sources, or treatment and distribution systems. But no one knows, and no specific procedures yet exist for filtering or containing them," the report warns.

Dr. Sherri Mason, a micro-plastic expert at the State University of New York, who worked on the analysis with Orb Media, says there is enough evidence to be seriously concerned.

"We have enough data from looking at wildlife, and the impacts that it’s having on wildlife, to be concerned," Dr. Mason told The Guardian"If it’s impacting [wildlife], then how do we think that it’s not going to somehow impact us?"

Piles of trash on the edge of Lebanon's Mediterranean coast Source: Newsroom Nomad

Lebanon also suffers from a major trash crisis

While many Lebanese may already avoid drinking tap water in fear of contaminants, this doesn't exactly fix the problem.

Purchasing water packaged in plastic bottles doesn't exactly protect consumers from micro-plastics. 

Additionally, plastic bottles often contain bisphenol A (BPA,) which has been shown to be toxic to humans and possibly even decrease birthrates, according to a 2015 report by New Statesman. Even plastic bottles without BPA have been linked to other health issues.

And as a major trash crisis continues in Lebanon, with little action to resolve the problem from the government, even mountain springs and traditional clean water sources are under serious threat.

 Dr. Naji Kodeih, an environmental expert, told Annahar that 70 percent of natural springs are in danger of getting polluted, based on observations and information from relevant ministries.

"Most of the water utilities are not working, and we do not have an integrated sewage treatment system," Dr. Kodeih said.

Untreated sewage combined with improperly handled trash are a recipe for major environmental disaster. 

Combine this with the world's second highest percentage of tap water contaminated with micro-plastics, and Lebanon is facing a serious public health crisis as well.