- Polypropylene is used in most plastic bottles on the market today.
- A recent study found that polypropylene plastic bottles throw away millions of microplastic particles that babies ingest.
- Preparing the formula in a non-plastic container when transferring it to plastic bottles once it cools is a way to reduce your baby’s exposure to microplastics.
- Scientists do not yet know the impact of microplastics on human health.
Since the 2012 ban on the use of BPA in baby bottles, Many bottle manufacturers have resorted to polypropylene, a strong BPA-free plastic, for their bottles. For years, this seemed like an ideal solution: less expensive and cumbersome than glass bottles, but safe from chemicals that could enter babies’ developing bodies. Today, about 82% of all plastic bottles manufactured worldwide contain polypropylene.
Unfortunately, a recent study published in the journal Food in nature found that polypropylene bottles could release more than 16 million microplastic particles per liter into the baby’s formula. But don’t panic, the study also provided recommendations on how to safely sanitize bottles and heat your baby’s formula without risking exposure to harmful microplastics.
Conflicting study results and recommendations
The study explains: “Polypropylene products are commonly used for food preparation and storage, but their ability to release microplastics is poorly understood. Studies have shown that sterilization [biberón infantil de polipropileno] and exposure to water at high temperatures significantly increases the release of microplastics. «
This is bad news for parents, as both practices are currently recommended by major health organizations when using plastic bottles – current guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) encourage boiling plastic bottles for babies for five minutes on day to ensure «additional germ killing». »
And the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends the use of water at a temperature of not less than 70 degrees Celsius (158 degrees Fahrenheit) for the preparation of the formula, because the formula is not a sterile substance. These guidelines are in direct opposition to the new findings set out in this groundbreaking study, which states: «Exposure to water at high temperatures significantly increases the release of microplastics ( 0.6 million to 55 million particles per liter ) when the temperature rises [de 77 a 203 grados Fahrenheit] ”.
When we mix this hot liquid, the amount of particles coming out of the microplastic increases. It occurs due to the structure of polypropylene and the way plastics are made.
– JING JING WANG, Ph.D.
The team of scientists involved in the study recognizes that more research is needed to determine the exact mechanism of microplastic release. «Hot liquids cause the inner surface of plastic bottles to ‘peel off’, like tiny particles that come off and get into the liquid,» says Jing Jing Wang, PhD, a researcher at Trinity College Dublin. Shake this hot liquid, increase the amount of particles that come off the microplastic. It’s because of the structure of the polypropylene and the way the plastics are made, ”he says.
If there is good news in this regard, it is that «the level of released microplastics can be significantly reduced by following modified sterilization and formulation procedures,» according to the study. In fact, a drastic reduction in micro and nanoplastic shedding was observed when plastic bottles were only exposed to water at lower temperatures (think: room temperature). As such, the team of scientists conducting the study calls on parliamentarians to re-evaluate the guidelines and procedures for the safest preparation of plastic bottles for feeding children, according to a press release .
To sterilize a bottle made of polypropylene, the researchers suggest following the WHO guidelines, which involve boiling the bottles for up to five minutes and then letting them cool. Ideally, you want to make sure that the container you are using is made of a non-plastic material, such as glass or stainless steel. Once the bottles have cooled completely, the recommendation is to rinse the bottle at least three times with pre-sterilized water at room temperature.
Heat the water used to prepare the formula in a different plastic container, such as glass or stainless steel. Similarly, the formula should be mixed in this type of container. Once the prepared formula has reached room temperature, it can be transferred to a plastic bottle (it is important to note here that the prepared formula should not remain at room temperature for more than 2 hours, According to the CDC ).
In addition to these revised safety guidelines, which could attract the attention of major healthcare organizations, it is prudent to follow basic precautions when using any type of plastic for food preparation. This may include reheating the prepared formula in plastic containers and placing any type of plastic container in the microwave.
What does this mean for you?
Although these findings from the study may seem alarming, it is important to remember that as microplastics become more widespread, scientists warn that more information is needed to know exactly how they affect us. .
«This is a new, rapidly evolving field of research, and data on the potential impact on human health are not well developed,» says Wang. Until we know more, it is better to keep the liquids that come in contact with the plastic bottles at room temperature (not more than 2 hours) as long as it ispossible.