Microwaving Plastic Baby Food Containers Releases Harmful Plastic Particles, Study Finds
New research conducted by the University of Nebraska–Lincoln reveals that microwaving plastic baby food containers can release significant amounts of plastic particles. The study found that certain containers released an alarming number of over 2 billion nanoplastics and 4 million microplastics per square centimeter.
The health implications of consuming micro- and nanoplastics are still uncertain. However, the study discovered that three-quarters of kidney cells in culture died after just two days of exposure to these particles. This raises concerns about the potential dangers associated with ingesting these plastics.
In line with these findings, a 2022 report from the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended limiting exposure to micro- and nanoplastics. The report emphasizes the need to take proactive measures to reduce the release of these harmful particles into our environment and our bodies.
Interestingly, the research focused on plastic containers and pouches that are commonly used for baby food but had not been previously studied. The experiments conducted involved two types of plastic containers approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the results indicated that both released micro- and nanoplastics when subjected to microwaving.
The study estimated that infants who consume products prepared with microwaved water and toddlers who consume microwaved dairy products have the highest concentrations of plastic ingestion. Even long-term storage of food and drinks in plastic containers under refrigeration or at room temperature could lead to the release of micro- and nanoplastics, as suggested by experiments simulating these conditions.
Additionally, the study exposed embryonic kidney cells to the plastic particles and observed that only 23% of the cells exposed to the highest concentrations were able to survive after two days. This further highlights the potential toxicity of micro- and nanoplastics, particularly on kidney cells.
Consequently, the researchers emphasize the urgency for the development of alternative materials for baby food containers that release fewer micro- and nanoplastics. The lead author of the study envisions a future where plastic products are labeled as “microplastics-free” or “nanoplastics-free” to guide consumers in making safer choices.
This study sheds light on the potential risks associated with microwaving plastic baby food containers and the release of harmful plastic particles. It serves as a call to action for manufacturers and policymakers to prioritize the development of safer alternatives in order to protect the health and well-being of infants and toddlers.
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