Water
The US has the worst contamination rate in the worldGetty

Scientists are calling for urgent action after they discovered that several countries around the world are suffering with plastic contamination of tap water.

Experts at Orb Media collected tap water samples from more than a dozen nations and a total of 83% of these were contaminated with microplastics.

The country with the highest contamination rate was the United States which had a figure of 94%.

The US samples which contained high amounts of plastic fibres came from various locations including Congress buildings, the environmental protection offices and Trump Tower in New York.

At the other end of the scale, the countries with the lowest rates were all in Europe, including the UK, Germany and France. Despite appearing at the bottom of the scale, the contamination rate in those countries was still 72%.

On average, for every 500ml sample of water that was analysed, water in the US contained 4.8 plastic fibres compared to 1.9 in Europe.

Much of the plastic came from clothing which often sheds large amounts of fibres when being washed, the data revealed that a fleece jacket can lose around 250,000 fibres in a single wash.

Dr Sherri Mason, a microplastic expert at the State University of New York in Fredonia who oversaw the study, said: "We have enough data from looking at wildlife, and the impacts that it's having on wildlife, to be concerned. If it's impacting [wildlife], then how do we think that it's not going to somehow impact us?"

Similar recent studies have found a sharp rise in the number of plastics being consumed by humans.

Analysis in Paris in 2015 found a increase in the number of plastic particles that were in the atmosphere being breathed in by humans. A study in Germany found microplastics in dozens of beers, honeys and sugar.