Microwave releases a shocking amount of microplastics by heating baby milk

Over 2 billion nanoplastics and 4 million microplastics for every square centimeter of container, an absurd number that exposes children to potentially serious health risks

by Lorenzo Ciotti
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Microwave releases a shocking amount of microplastics by heating baby milk

Researchers at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln have shown that plastic containers for babies, including baby bottles, can release enormous numbers of plastic particles when heated in the microwave, giving truly shocking results.

Over 2 billion nanoplastics and 4 million microplastics for every square centimeter of container, an absurd number that exposes children to potentially serious health risks. This happens because very small plastic parts end up in milk, other drinks or children's food.

Experts conducted experiments on two polypropylene baby food containers and a reusable polyethylene bag, both approved by the US Food and Drug Administration. The study noted that there is considerable dispersion of plastic nano- and micro-particles even when containers are displayed on store shelves at room temperature or stored in a refrigerator, as is often the case.

Therefore, the release of these particles is not exclusively attributable to the use of the microwave, even if in the latter case the problem is greater. The researchers who carried out the study explained, as stated on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln website: "The researchers filled the containers with deionized water or 3% acetic acid - the latter intended to simulate dairy products, fruits, vegetables and other relatively acidic consumables – then they heated them at full power for three minutes in a microwave at 1,000 W.

Next, they analyzed the liquids for micro and nanoplastics: micros are particles at least 1/1,000 of a millimeter in diameter, the smallest nano particles.The actual number of each particle released by the microwave depended on multiple factors, including the plastic container and the liquid inside.

But based on a model that considered the release of particles, body weight, and per capita ingestion of various foods and beverages, the team estimated that children who drink microwaved products with water and young children who consume microwaved dairy products are taking in the greatest concentrations of plastic.

The exposure model results suggested that the highest estimated daily intake was 20.3 ng/kg/day for infants drinking microwaved water and 22.1 ng/kg/day for young children drinking they consumed microwaved dairy products from polypropylene containers."