Bottle-fed babies swallow millions of microplastics every day

In the study, conducted by Trinity College of Dublin in Ireland, researchers tested polypropylene bottles, which account for 82 percent of the world market.

In the study, published in the journal Nature Food, the team followed international sterilization rules prepared by the World Health Organization (who) to make baby food in 10 different bottles. This means that the bottle is cleaned with 90 degrees of water, then shaken with heated water to 70 degrees.


Both hot water and churning steps produce microplastic the width of a human hair, the researchers noted. Nanoplastics are so small that they are very difficult to count, but scientists estimate that they are produced in trillions per liter.


Next, the scientists combined their experimental data with bottle-feeding and milk intake rates in 48 regions covering three-quarters of the global population. It found that on average, babies were exposed to 1.6 million microplastic particles a day in their first year when fed plastic bottles.

The US, Australia and European countries had the highest levels. More than 2 million particles a day are thought to be ingested by babies because of higher bottle-feeding levels in these countries.


The researchers, on the other hand, suggested that an additional washing step could cut off the microplastics produced during the usual cleaning. Accordingly, water boiled in a non-plastic container and then cooled should be used to shake the bottle three times after sterilization.

Microplastics in the environment have already been known to contaminate people’s food and drink, but the study suggests that preparing food in plastic containers can lead to thousands of times more exposure.

Professor John Boland, of Trinity College Dublin, said of the number of microplastics produced by bottles: “we were absolutely baffled. A study last year by the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that adults would consume between 300 and 600 microplastics a day. However, our average values are around millions,” he said.


“We need to start doing health research to understand the effects of microplastics, ” Boland said. We are already working with our colleagues to see which parts of the immune system these particles affect. Most of the particles will simply be ejected from the body, but we need more research on how many of them can be absorbed by the bloodstream and go to other parts of the body,” he said.

However, Boland said, ” I’ve already gotten rid of all these food containers that I used to use, and if I had small children, I’d change the bottle. Use glass containers. The message is a precautionary principle,” he said, advising people not to use plastic containers and bottles.


On the other hand, it was already known that people consume microplastics through eating and drinking and inhale them. In particular, it has been proven that tea brewed using plastic-based tea bags and drinking water sold in plastic bottles contain microplastic. Scientists are concerned that microplastics can carry pathogens or toxic chemicals into the body.

However, microplastics have polluted the entire planet, from Arctic snow and Alpine soils to the deepest oceans. “Our research shows that plastic products are an important source of micro-plastics, which means that the exposure pathways are much closer to us than previously thought,” said Liwen Xiao, the study’s other author.

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