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From: ScienceDaily (1:317/3)
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Date: Tue, 20.10.20 23:30
High levels of microplastics released fr
High levels of microplastics released from infant feeding bottles during
formula prep

October 20, 2020
Trinity College Dublin
New research shows that high levels of microplastics (MPs)
are released from infant-feeding bottles (IFBs) during formula
preparation. The research also indicates a strong relationship
between heat and MP release, such that warmer liquids (formula or
water used to sterilize bottles) result in far greater release
of MPs. The work underlines the need for appropriate mitigation
strategies and new plastic technologies.

New research shows that high levels of microplastics (MPs) are released
from infant-feeding bottles (IFBs) during formula preparation. The
research also indicates a strong relationship between heat and MP release,
such that warmer liquids (formula or water used to sterilise bottles)
result in far greater release of MPs.

In response, the researchers involved -- from AMBER, the SFI Research
Centre for Advanced Materials and Bioengineering Research, TrinityHaus
and the Schools of Engineering and Chemistry at Trinity College Dublin --
have developed a set of recommendations for infant formula preparation
when using plastic IFBs that minimise MP release.

Led by Dr Jing Jing Wang, Professor John Boland and Professor Liwen
Xiao at Trinity, the team analysed the potential for release of MPs from
polypropylene infant-feeding bottles (PP-IFBs) during formula preparation
by following international guidelines. They also estimated the exposure
of 12-month-old infants to MPs in 48 countries and regions and have just
published their findings in the high-profile journal Nature Food.

Key findings
* PP-IFBs can release up to 16 million MPs and trillions of smaller
nanoplastics per litre. Sterilisation and exposure to high
temperature water significantly increase microplastic release from
0.6 million to 55 million particles/l when temperature increases
from 25 to 95 DEGC
* Other polypropylene plastic-ware products (kettles, lunchboxes)
similar levels of MPs
* The team undertook a global survey and estimated the exposure of 12-
month-old infants to microplastics in 48 regions. Following current
guidelines1 for infant-feeding bottle sterilisation and feeding
formula preparation the average daily exposure level for infants is
in excess of 1 million MPs. Oceania, North America and Europe have
the highest levels of potential exposure, at 2,100,000, 2,280,000,
and 2,610,000 particles/ day, respectively
* The level of microplastics released from PP-IFBs can be
reduced by following modified sterilisation and formula preparation
Recommended sterilisation and formula preparation procedures
* Sterilising infant feeding bottles * Sterilise the bottle following
WHO recommended guidelines and allow to
* Prepare sterilised water by boiling in a non-plastic kettle/cooker

glass or stainless steel)
* Rinse the sterilised bottle using room temperature sterilised
water at
least 3 times
Preparing infant formula
* Prepare hot water using a non-plastic kettle/cooker * Prepare
infant formula in a non-plastic container using at least 70oC
water. Cool to room temperature and transfer prepared formula into
a high-quality plastic infant feeding bottle
Standard Precautions
* Do not reheat prepared formula in plastic containers and avoid
* Do not vigorously shake the formula in the bottle at any time *
Do not use sonication to clean plastic infant feeding bottles

Studying microplastics through a project of scale There is growing
evidence to suggest that micro2 and nano plastics are released into our
food and water sources through the chemical and physical degradation
of larger plastic items. Some studies have demonstrated the potential
transfer of micro and nano plastics from oceans to humans via the food
chain3 but little is known about the direct release of microplastics
(MPs) from plastic products through everyday use.

Polypropylene (PP) is one of the most commonly produced plastics in the
world for food preparation and storage. It is used to make everyday items
such as lunch boxes, kettles and infant-feeding bottles (IFBs). Despite
its widespread use the capacity of PP to release microplastics was not
appreciated until now.

Measuring Polypropylene microplastic release (PP-MPs) from infant
feeding bottles (IFB) Drawing on international guidelines for infant
formula preparation (cleaning, sterilising, and mixing techniques),
the team developed a protocol4 to quantify the PP-MPs released from
10 representative infant-feeding bottles that account for 68.8% of the
global infant-feeding bottle market.

When the role of temperature on the release of PP-MPs was analysed a
clear trend emerged; the higher the temperature of liquid inside the
bottle, the more microplastics released.

Under a standardised protocol, after sterilisation and exposure to water
at 70?C, the PP-IFBs released up to 16.2 million PP-MP per litre. When
the water temperature was increased to 95?C, as much as 55 million PP-MP
per litre were released, while when the PP-IFB's were exposed to water
at 25?C -- well under international guidelines for sterilisation or
formula preparation -- 600,000 PP-MP per litre were generated.

Estimating the exposure of 12-month-old infants to MPs from PP-IFBs
Given the widespread use of PP-IFBs and the quantity of MPs released
through normal daily use, the team realised the potential exposure of
infants to MPs is a worldwide issue. The team estimated the exposure
of 12-month-old infants to MPs in 48 countries and regions 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 that the overall average daily consumption of PP-MPs by
infants per capita was 1,580,000 particles.

Oceania, North America and Europe were found to have the highest levels
of potential exposure corresponding to 2,100,000, 2,280,000, and 2,610,000
particles/day, respectively.

Mitigating exposure Given the global preference for PP-IBFs it is
important to mitigate against unintended generation of micro and
nanoplastics in infant formula. Based on their findings the team devised
and tested a series of recommendations for the preparation of baby
formula that will help minimise the production of MPs.

They note though, that given the prevalence of plastic products in
daily food storage and food preparation, and the fact that every PP
product tested in the study (infant bottles, kettles, lunch boxes and
noodle cups) released similar levels of MPs, there is an urgent need
for technological solutions.

As Professor John Boland, AMBER, CRANN, and Trinity's School of Chemistry
explains: "When we saw these results in the lab we recognised immediately
the potential impact they might have. 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 policy makers, however, to reassess the current
guidelines for formula preparation when using plastic infant feeding
bottles. Crucially, we have found that it is possible to mitigate the risk
of ingesting microplastics by changing practices around sterilisation and
formula preparation." Professor Liwen Xiao at TrinityHaus and Trinity's
School of Engineering said: "Previous research has predominantly focused
on human exposure to micro and nanoplastics via transfer from ocean
and soils into the food chain driven by the degradation of plastics in
the environment.

"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. We need to urgently assess
the potential risks of microplastics to human health. Understanding their
fate and transport through the body following ingestion is an important
focus of future research.

Determining the potential consequences of microplastics on our health is
critical for the management of microplastic pollution." Lead authors, Dr
Dunzhu Li and Dr Yunhong Shi, researchers at CRANN and Trinity's School
of Engineering, said: "We have to accept that plastics are pervasive
in modern life, and that they release micro and nano plastics through
everyday use. We don't yet know the risks to human health of these tiny
plastic particles, but we can develop behavioural and technological
solutions and strategies to mitigate against their exposure." Dr Jing
Jing Wang, Microplastics Group at AMBER and CRANN, said: "While this
research points to the role of plastic products as a direct source of
microplastic the removal of microplastics from the environment and our
water supplies remains a key future challenge.

"Our team will investigate specific mechanisms of micro and nano plastic
release during food preparation in a host of different contexts. We
want to develop appropriate technologies that will prevent plastics
degrading and effective filtration technologies that will remove micro
and nanoplastics from our environment for large scale water treatment
and local distribution and use." This work has been undertaken by
the Microplastics Group led by Dr Jing Jing Wang at AMBER and CRANN,
with internal collaboration from TrinityHaus and Trinity's School of
Engineering and School of Chemistry. This research was supported by
Enterprise Ireland, Science Foundation Ireland, a School of Engineering
Scholarship at Trinity, and the China Scholarship Council.

Story Source: Materials provided by Trinity_College_Dublin. Note:
Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference:
1. Dunzhu Li, Yunhong Shi, Luming Yang, Liwen Xiao, Daniel K. Kehoe,
K. Gun'ko, John J. Boland, Jing Jing Wang. Microplastic
release from the degradation of polypropylene feeding bottles
during infant formula preparation. Nature Food, 2020; DOI:

Link to news story:

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