Microplastics and Nanoplastics Released from Plastic Baby Food Containers and Food Pouches Interview with:

Kazi Albab Hussain

Kazi Albab Hussain

Kazi Albab Hussain
Graduate Student (PhD)
Specialization: Water Resources
Advisor: Professor  Yusong Li, PhD
Associate Dean for Faculty and Inclusion What is the background for this study?

Response: Microplastics have been detected in various food items and beverages, including table salt, bottled water, fish, and mussels. The extensive use of plastic-based products in food preparation, storage, and handling has raised concerns about the direct release of microplastics. Interestingly, we often discuss microplastics but overlook nanoplastics in the conversation. Due to their smaller size, nanoplastics are harder to be detected.

In our study, we wanted to see the release of both microplastics and nanoplastics, as nanoplastics may be even  more toxic than microplastics.

Unfortunately, infants and toddlers are particularly vulnerable to the potential health impacts of micro- and nanoplastics. Studies have shown significant ingestion of these particles from polypropylene feeding bottles and silicone-rubber baby teats. We aimed to investigate the release of of micro- and nanoplastics, estimated their exposure for infants and toddlers, and evaluated their cytotoxicity to human embryonic kidney cells. What are the main findings?

Response:  We conducted experiments to simulate different usage scenarios: refrigeration storage, room temperature storage, high-temperature conditions, and microwave heating for 3min. We have found microwave heating caused the highest release of microplastics and nanoplastics. From just one square centimeter of plastic, some containers released up to 4.22 million microplastics and 2.11 billion nanoplastics during  three minutes of microwave heating. More over, over a period of six months,  millions to billions of microplastics and nanoplastics were released from containers in refrigeration and room-temperature storage.

In vitro studies revealed that the released microplastics and nanoplastics led to cell death at certain concentrations and exposure durations in human embryonic kidney cells. What should readers take away from your report?

Response: The food contact application of plastic can result in the ingestion of microplastics and nanoplastics. The amount of ingested microplastics and nanoplastics depends on the usage, with  heating the plastic resulting in more plastic release compared to normal temperature usage. What recommendations do you have for future research as a results of this study?

Response: It is essential to understand the extent of microplastic and nanoplastics exposure in order to assess their health risks. We also need to know how our bodies process these microplastics and nanoplastics once they are  inside us.  Futhermore, we  need to develop easily accessible alternatives to plastic products, particularly for baby products, to ensure that sufficient options are available for those who choose to reduce or eliminate their use of plastics. Is there anything else you would like to add? Any disclosures?

Response: For my family, I try to limit the use of plastics in food contact applications. The readers have the freedom to make their own wise decisions.


Assessing the Release of Microplastics and Nanoplastics from Plastic Containers and Reusable Food Pouches: Implications for Human HealthKazi Albab Hussain, Svetlana Romanova, Ilhami Okur, Dong Zhang, Jesse Kuebler Xi Huang, Bing Wang, Lucia Fernandez-Ballester, Yongfeng Lu, Mathias Schubert and Yusong Li

Cite this:Environ. Sci. Technol. 2023, 57, 26, 9782–9792
Publication Date:June 21, 2023

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Last Updated on July 21, 2023 by Marie Benz MD FAAD