Thousands of microplastics in baby bottles
An average baby ingests more than a million microparticles of plastic detached from her bottle every day, according to a study published Monday that suggests some actions to reduce this ingestion, whose impact on health is unknown.
The authors of the study published in the journal Nature Food exposed each of the best-selling models of polypropylene bottles to the preparation procedure recommended by the World Health Organization: sterilization of the bottle, then preparation of the formula with water heated to 70 ° C, to eliminate any dangerous bacteria.
Result: some bottles release up to 16 million microplastics per liter, and temperature plays an important role. If the water to prepare the milk is heated to 95 ° C, the quantity can rise to 55 million per liter; and go down to just over half a million with 25 ° C water.
A 12-month-old baby ingests an average of 1.5 million microplastics every day, according to the researchers who relied in particular on figures for bottle sales and the volume of milk ingested per day in 48 countries.
Greater exposure in developed countries
Daily exposure is higher in developed countries where breastfeeding is less important: 2.3 million in North America, 2.6 million in Europe.
"The last thing we want to do is make parents too alarmed, especially since we do not have enough information about the possible health consequences of microplastics for babies," commented one of the authors John Boland.
Some studies show the extent of microplastics contamination of food: WWF has estimated that the average person ingests up to 5 grams of plastic per week, the weight of a credit card. But data is lacking on the health impact of this ingestion itself or the chemical risks associated with potential additives.
"It is quite possible that (the particles) just pass very fast through the body," said Oliver Jones, a professor at RMIT University in Melbourne who was not involved in the study, cited by Science Media Center.
Regardless, the authors make recommendations to limit the exposure of babies: rinse the bottles three times with cold sterilized water after sterilization, prepare the powdered milk in a non-plastic container before pouring the cooled liquid into the bottle , do not shake the bottle too much, do not put it in the microwave. And to heat the water, do not use a plastic electric kettle that releases "a similar amount of microplastics."
The study did not look at glass bottles, which certainly "do not release particles," but are "heavy and brittle" and remain marginal on the market, the authors note.
Given the widespread use of plastic models, "studying the fate and transport of microplastics through the body is our next step," they told AFP, specifying that they wanted to focus on questions of immunology and biochemistry related to the ingestion of micro or even plastic nanoparticles.