U.S – A recent study from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln has revealed that microwaving plastic baby food containers can result in the release of billions of tiny plastic particles, posing potential health risks.

The research team found that when microwaved, each square centimeter of these containers can discharge in some cases over 2 billion nano plastics and 4 million microplastics.

While the potential health risks of ingesting these tiny plastic particles are yet to be fully understood, the study made a startling revelation: up to 75 percent of cultured embryonic kidney cells perished after just two days of exposure to these particles.

This finding underpins the 2022 report by the World Health Organization (WHO), which advises limiting exposure to micro- and nano-plastics.

Kazi Albab Hussain, the study’s lead author and a doctoral student in civil and environmental engineering at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, emphasized the need for public awareness.

“It is really important to know how many micro- and nano-plastics we are taking in,” said Hussain.

“When we eat specific foods, we are generally informed or have an idea about their caloric content, sugar levels, and other nutrients. I believe it’s equally important that we are aware of the number of plastic particles present in our food.”

According to Hussain, understanding the quantity of micro- and nano-plastics we consume could be key to grasping the potential harm they might cause.

He notes that several studies, including their own, demonstrate a strong link between the toxicity of these particles and the degree of exposure.

The researchers used two baby food containers in the study, one of which was made using polypropylene while the other was a reusable pouch made from polyethylene, both approved for use by the US Food and Drug Administration.

In the first experiment, the team filled plastic containers with deionized water or 3% acetic acid and heated them for three minutes at full power in a 1,000W microwave.

The team then assessed the liquids and determined the presence of microplastics and nano-plastics. The exact number of each particle released after the process was based on various factors such as the type of container and the liquid within it.

The researchers concluded that toddlers consuming microwaved dairy products and infants drinking microwaved water/drinking products are absorbing the ‘greatest’ relative concentrations of plastic.

Albab Hussain added: “We need to find the polymers which release fewer (particles). Probably, researchers will be able to develop plastics that do not release any micro- or nano-plastics – or, if they do, release would be negligible.

“I am hopeful that a day will come when these products display labels that read ‘microplastics-free’ or ‘nano-plastics-free’.”

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