Your baby could be drinking millions of microplastic particles per day

Plastic baby bottles. Image|Courtesy

 Every morning you wake up planning for work and how your bouncing baby will be fed up by the nanny, with plenty of the infant diet filled with liquid food. You mix or instruct a nanny to prepare a bottle of formula for your child, a mixture that will provide the little treasure with proteins and vitamins required to grow big, strong and less dependent to breast milk.

As the day goes by, the mixture gets cold and sticky –a fact that requires the nanny to warm and shake as the little angel enjoys drinking. But science has proved that while warming and shaking up the bottle, millions of microplastic particles are released into the liquid, taken in by the infant.

Wired report that these nanoplastic particles have health implications to the child’s body, which is yet to be known. This revelation comes from a paper published by Nature Food.

The research conducted at Trinity University in Dublin, shows that out of 10 types of polypropylene baby bottles (two-thirds of global bottle market), 1.3 and 16.2 million per liter of fluid are released.

It goes on to estimate that an average infant consumes 1.6 million microplastic particles every day.

“I think that the health implication is a big question. This study shows us the proximity of microplstic to food and suggests that it is time we look at these studies much more carefully,” reads part of sentiments from Trinity College Dublin material engineer John Boland.

He goes to add that polypropylene is a rubbery polymer made of layers of a tougher crystalline material, a more amorphous material which calves off very easily and then the more robust crystalline material that's exposed is much more resistant to being undercut by the water.

“The numbers are, well, frightening,” says Deonie Allen, who studies microplastics at the University of Strathclyde. “They're terrifying. They're huge. They're bigger than any exposure tests that have been done before for human uptake.”

To count the release of microplastic particles from polypropylene bottles, Boland and his colleagues followed the World Health Organization’s protocol for the safe preparation of baby formula. That includes sterilizing an empty bottle in boiling water, drying it, letting it cool, then filling it with water at 70 degrees Celsius, or 158 degrees Fahrenheit. Then you add the powder, shake the bottle, and let cool, at which point it’s ready for consumption. Or in the scientists’ case, they passed the liquid through a filter and counted the microplastic particles left behind.

Previous research estimates that adults consume between 39,000 and 52,000 microplastics particles per year and if the Trinity team’s calculations are correct, babies fed with plastic bottles are getting as many as 4 million per day, or 1.5 billion particles per year.

 

 

 

See also: South Africa: Greenpeace Africa want elite politicians to include Plastic Ban campaign in their manifestos

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