The results of a study have shown that heating plastic baby food containers in a microwave oven can release billions of nanoplastic particles. This raises serious concerns about the health effects on infants and toddlers.
Key findings of the study
1. Micro- and nanoplastics release. The research team found that each square centimeter of plastic containers can release more than 2 billion nanoplastics and 4 million microplastics when heated in a microwave oven.
2. Potential Health Risks. While the full effects of ingesting these plastic particles have yet to be determined, a study found that up to 75 percent of cultured embryonic kidney cells died after just two days of exposure to these particles.
3. WHO Recommendations. The World Health Organization’s 2022 report recommends limiting exposure to micro- and nanoplastics based on the findings of this study.
Importance of public awareness.
Qazi Albab Hussain, lead author of the study, emphasizes the need to inform the public about the amount of plastic particles present in food. This will allow for a better understanding of the potential harm these particles can cause.
Researcher’s personal experience.
Qazi Albab Hussain came up with the idea for the study when he became a father in 2021. The lack of research on the topic prompted him and his team to investigate.
The team used polypropylene baby food containers and a reusable plastic bag approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. They filled the containers with deionized water or acetic acid to simulate dairy products and other acidic foods, and heated them in a microwave oven.
The results of the study.
Results varied depending on the type of container and its contents, but a disturbing trend was found – infants and toddlers who consumed microwave-heated water or dairy products ingested the highest concentrations of plastic.
Health effects of plastic particles
Many studies have already been done to examine the health effects of plastic particles. For example, a study conducted at Newcastle University found that plastic nanoparticles can enter the body through the digestive system and lungs, which can lead to various diseases including pneumonia and cancer.
It was also found that some plastic particles may contain toxic chemicals such as bisphenol A (BPA) and phthalates, which can have negative effects on the hormonal system and the development of reproductive organs.
Experts recommend taking steps to reduce plastic particle consumption. Here are a few recommendations:
1. Avoid heating plastic containers in the microwave. Use glass or ceramic containers instead.
2. Check the labeling of containers before use. Avoid using containers that are not designed to be heated in a microwave oven.
3. Prefer foods without plastic packaging. Buy fresh produce without excessive packaging or choose alternatives such as paper or glass packaging.
4. Support plastic recycling. It is important to properly dispose of plastic waste so that it does not enter the environment or come back to us through food and water.