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The hidden ageing factor: microplastics in food

Jul 22, 2023

Microwave heating of plastic containers releases the highest amount of microplastics and nanoplastics into food. Some containers release billions of particles in just 3 minutes.

 

Key takeaways: Assessing the release of microplastics and nanoplastics from plastic containers and reusable food pouches: Implications for human health

 

  • Microwave and plastics: Microwaving food in plastic containers can lead to a significant release of microplastics and nanoplastics. This process can result in billions of particles being released from just a small area of the plastic within a short time frame
  • Storage and release: Storing food in plastic containers, whether at room temperature or in refrigeration, over extended periods can also contribute to the release of microplastics and nanoplastics. This release is not exclusive to microwaving but can occur under various storage conditions
  • Cellular impact: The microplastics and nanoplastics released from these containers have shown potential effects on human cells. Specifically, a notable percentage of human embryonic kidney cells were affected when exposed to certain concentrations of these particles
  • Varied intake: The daily intake of these particles can vary based on consumption habits. For instance, infants drinking microwaved water and toddlers consuming microwaved dairy products from specific containers might have a higher daily intake of microplastics and nanoplastics

 

Reference: Hussain, Kazi Albab, et al. “Assessing the Release of Microplastics and Nanoplastics from Plastic Containers and Reusable Food Pouches: Implications for Human Health.” Environ. Sci. Technol., vol. 57, no. 26, 2023, pp. 9782–9792, https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.est.3c01942.