Millions of infants may be exposed to high levels of microplastics released from feeding bottles during formula preparation.
That’s according to new research by AMBER, the Science Foundation Ireland Research Centre for Advanced Materials and Bioengineering Research, TrinityHaus and the Schools of Engineering and Chemistry at Trinity College Dublin, which found a strong relationship between heat and microplastics release for the infant-feeding bottles.
The analysis suggests under a standardised protocol, after sterilisation and exposure to water at 70⁰C, the polypropylene infant-feeding bottles (PP-IFBs) released up to 16.2 million polypropylene microplastics (PP-MP) per litre.
The scientific team, which developed a protocol to quantify the PP-MPs released from ten representative infant-feeding bottles that account for 68.8% of the global infant-feeding bottle market, also estimated the exposure of 12-month-old infants to MPs in 48 countries and regions.
That was achieved by using MP release rates from PP-IFBs, the market share of each PP-IFB, the infant daily milk-intake volume, and breastfeeding rates.
The team found the overall average daily consumption of polypropylene microplastics by infants per capita was 1,580,000 particles.
Oceania, North America and Europe were also found to have the highest levels of potential exposure corresponding to 2,100,000, 2,280,000, and 2,610,000 particles per day, respectively.
John Boland, Professor at AMBER, CRANN and Trinity’s School of Chemistry, said: “The last thing we want is to unduly alarm parents, particularly when we don’t have sufficient information on the potential consequences of microplastics on infant health.
“We are calling on policymakers, however, to reassess the current guidelines for formula preparation when using plastic infant feeding bottles.”
Liwen Xiao, Professor at TrinityHaus and Trinity’s School of Engineering, commented: “Our study indicates that daily use of plastic products is an important source of microplastic release, meaning that the routes of exposure are much closer to us than previously thought.”