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A study has shown that high levels of microplastics are released from plastic infant-feeding bottles during formula preparation across a range of temperatures.
This study has also determined the global average daily exposure to these particles for infants up to 12 months old.
The researchers developed a rigorous protocol based on World Health Organization guidelines to test how heat affects microplastics released from infant feeding bottles representing 69% of the global market share for this product.
To sterilize, the bottles are first soaked in 95℃water for 5 minutes and they are then air-dried. Water at 70℃ is poured into the bottle which is shaken for 60 seconds to simulate the formula mixing process. After the water had cooled, it was filtered to capture microplastic particles. The team’s experiments involved repeated testing of microplastic release with liquids of different temperatures, against controls, revealing that millions of microplastics are released into every litre of water when infant formula is prepared in plastic feeding bottles. When the water of higher temperatures is introduced into the bottles many millions more microplastic particles are released. These results were independently verified by a third-party laboratory.
To determine potential exposure rates for infants up to 12 months old across the globe, the researchers used socio-economic metrics and data-mining techniques concluding that on average infants are exposed to 1 million microplastic particles every day from plastic infant feeding bottles.
The team has developed a series of recommendations to mitigate infants’ exposure to microplastics. The four quickest and easiest steps are:
- Rinse sterilized feeding bottles with cool sterile water
- Always prepare the formula in a non-plastic container
- After the formula has cooled to room temperature, transfer it into the cooled, sterilized feeding bottle
- Avoid reheat prepared formula in plastic containers, and avoid reheating with the microwave
Other solutions include using glass bottles, though these are heavier for babies to hold and are breakable.