New research shows that high levels of microplastics (MPs) are released from infant-feeding bottles (IFBs) during formula preparation. The research also indicates a strong relationship between heat and MP release, such that warmer liquids (formula or water used to sterilise bottles) result in far greater release of MPs.
Researchers from AMBER, the SFI Research Centre for Advanced Materials and Bioengineering Research, TrinityHaus and the Schools of Engineering and Chemistry at Trinity College Dublin have now developed a set of recommendations for infant formula preparation when using plastic bottles that minimise microplastics(MPs) release.
Led by Dr Jing Jing Wang, Professor John Boland and Professor Liwen Xiao at Trinity, the team analysed the potential for release of MPs from polypropylene infant-feeding bottles (PP-IFBs) during formula preparation by following international guidelines, explains a statement.
PP-IFBs can release up to 16 million MPs and trillions of smaller nanoplastics per litre. Sterilisation and exposure to high temperature water significantly increase microplastic release from 0.6 million to 55 million particles/l when temperature increases from 25 to 95 °C.
Other polypropylene plastic-ware products (kettles, lunchboxes) release similar levels of MPs.
The team undertook a global survey and estimated the exposure of 12-month-old infants to microplastics in 48 regions. Following current guidelines for infant-feeding bottle sterilisation and feeding formula preparation the average daily exposure level for infants is in excess of 1 million MPs. Oceania, North America and Europe have the highest levels of potential exposure, at 2,100,000, 2,280,000, and 2,610,000 particles/day, respectively.
The level of microplastics released from PP-IFBs can be significantly reduced by following modified sterilisation and formula preparation procedures, say the researchers.
Photo credit: William Andrus/ Flickr Creative Commons