A new study by Trinity College scientists has found that millions of microplastics are released into infant formula when polypropylene-based feeding bottles are heated.
The paper revealed that infant exposure to microplastics is higher than previously thought and that more needs to be done to discover if it poses a risk to infant health.
To conduct the study, scientists measured the amount of microplastic particles released into the baby formula during preparation to investigate the potential exposure to infants during feeding. It says that the recommended high temperature process for sterilising the bottles and preparing the formula significantly increases microplastic release.
Published in the journal Nature Food, the study found that polypropylene plastic in infant feeding bottles releases microplastics with values as high as 16.2 million particles per litre.
To estimate the potential global exposure to infants up to 12 months old, the scientists surveyed 48 regions. It found values ranging from 14,600–4,550,000 particles per capita per day, depending on the region.
In conclusion of their results, the scientists highlight an urgent need to assess whether exposure to microplastics at these levels poses a risk to infant health.
The results are in line with previous research including a study at McGill University in Canada that discovered that plastic teabags can release billions of microplastic particles into a cup of tea.
As cited by The Guardian, Professor John Boland, at Trinity College Dublin in Ireland, said: “A study last year by the World Health Organization estimated adults would consume between 300 and 600 microplastics a day – our average values were on the order of a million or millions.
“We have to start doing the health studies to understand the implications. We’re already working with colleagues to look at what buttons in the immune system these particles begin to press.”
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2020