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Is PVA Found in Drinking Water?

Welcome back to my series where I debunk the myths that Blueland have been trying to sell to the public regarding polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) – the stuff that surrounds our pods. If you followed our last blog, you will know that we tackled the contentious assertion about PVA in breastmilk. Now, we are tackling their next myth, that PVA is found in drinking water.


If you're new to this blog, Blueland, another eco-friendly company that sells tablets, released a "Pods are Plastic Bill" initiative in February 2024. It has been seen on social media, billboards, photoshoots, and the Morning Show. Blueland is claiming that cleaning pods, their direct competitors to the tablets they sell, are just another form of plastic pollution.  


Once this hit social media, I instantly got in touch with our chemist who reassured me that he was 100% certain that the PVA that surrounds our pods is eco-friendly.


So here I have been, a recent university graduate who works for a small youth-led company, looking into Blueland's (not-so-scientific) claims.


This is the second part of a short blog series that tackles each claim they make. So let me take you through the facts.


Blueland's SECOND False Claim

Blueland claims that PVA has recently been found in our drinking water and they cite this study. In the discussion about microplastics in drinking water, the article highlights, “Polyvinyl alcohol, viscose, and polypropylene made up the majority of the MPs (microplastics) ”. You are then unable to access the full study unless you “access through your institution”. This frightens people and they assume that this article proves everything Blueland is trying to say. Luckily, I was able to use my University’s library so that I can deep dive into what this study truly says. Let’s have a look.


While reading this article, you will first learn that they are conducting this study with drinking water outdoor refill kiosk devices in Mexico City.


Later on in the article, they say, “When analyzing the outdoor refill kiosk devices in the parks and gardens of Mexico City, we found that they have been operating without filters or treatment systems such as sand filtration, ozonation, or reverse osmosis”. This means that no treatment is done to the water to remove microplastics.


The article then continues to say, “The water is delivered through several pipelines and is prone to microplastic pollution en route… More importantly, the drinking kiosk devices take the water directly from the plastic pipe. It is recognized that mechanical abrasion, fractures, and weakening of plastics result in the generation and introduction of microplastics into the surrounding environment. Hence, it is likely that aged plastic pipes would have released microplastics into the drinking water”. The contents of this study relates specifically to the contaminated drinking water in Mexico from lack of filtration systems. This study, once again, has nothing to talk about dish detergent pods and the PVA used for them.


How can Blueland Claim that PVA is Found in Drinking Water?

So how is Blueland able to make this claim that PVA is found in drinking water? Well, PVA actually is found in the drinking water in Mexico City. However, the PVA used in Mexico City's water transportation is not the same PVA that is used for detergent encapsulation.


This situation is similar to how sugar is used in both cooking and industrial applications. The table sugar you put in your coffee is not the same sugar used to create biofuels. Both use sugar, but their processing, purity, and composition are entirely different.



So, is PVA Found in our Drinking Water?

Let me put your mind at ease, the PVA used in detergent pods is NOT found in drinking water.

I empathize with all of the moms who are looking for eco-friendly products. The last thing you want to do is buy products that can hurt your kid's health. There have been decades of science behind using PVA in cleaning and it has passed every test.


Why is Blueland Doing This?

There must be some reason why a multi-million dollar company like Blueland would put out this shaky science. It is believed by some to be a marketing maneuver.

By casting PVA in a negative light, Blueland not only positions itself as the superior choice but also increases their consumer demand for environmentally friendly options. Other corporations believe that Blueland "has an interest in preventing other companies from using PVA".


You will probably be surprised to find out that this isn’t the first time that Blueland has pushed for PVA to be banned. That’s right, Blueland tried this same thing back in 2022. However, this was quickly turned away for multiple reasons. The ACI called this maneuver by Blueland a “Disappointing Misinformation Campaign” and would go on to talk about how Blueland is ignoring “Decades of Real-World Science”.


What's Next?

This isn't the only claim that Blueland have made. Follow along with this blog series while I tackle the other questionable things that Blueland has said.


If you don't want to read more but are still unconvinced, look at this graphic that disproves a lot of what Blueland says, and also look at this link to learn more about the science behind PVA.


If you haven't read my other blogs that talk about blueland's new bill, you can check them out below:

Here is the blog where we talk about how PVA is NOT found in breastmilk.

Here is the blog where we talk about how PVA IS biodegradable.




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