You may have heard and been advised against microwaving your leftovers in plastic because heating plastic accelerates the transfer of toxic chemicals and releases microplastics into your food.
Last week I posted an article by the Guardian titled “Bottle-fed babies swallow millions of microplastics a day, study finds“ on Ad Vitam's website and social media. Scientists found that the recommended high-temperature process for sterilising plastic bottles and preparing formula milk caused bottles to shed millions of microplastics and trillions of even smaller nanoplastics.
Babies are not the only ones swallowing microplastic and nanoplastic particles. A recent study found that steeping a single plastic teabag at brewing temperature (95 °C) releases approximately 11.6 billion microplastics and 3.1 billion nanoplastics. Most teabags contain polypropylene, which is a non-biodegradable plastic expected to survive in the environment for hundreds, if not thousands of years.
If you have been following Ad Vitam's content you know quite a bit about the effects of microplastics as this is not the first blog post about it, but here's a little refresher.
You’re literally eating microplastics
Research into microplastics is still new, but scientists are clear about that there cannot be no effect. It’s very possible that ingesting microplastics could further expose us to chemicals found in some plastics that are known to be harmful. Health concerns include hormonal disruption, reproductive harm, obesity, organ problems and developmental delays in children.
According to a research review, Americans ingest at least 74,000 microplastic particles every year just by eating, drinking, and breathing. Another study assigned by the World Wildlife Fund and administered by researchers at the University of Newcastle in Australia estimated that people consume about 5 grams of plastic a week — approximately the equivalent of a credit card.
Microplastic is ubiquitous and it’s one of the biggest environmental problems that most people haven’t even heard of. Because of all the plastic ever produced, less than 10% has been recycled, the rest is still here, broken down into tiny particles (microplastics) that make their way into lakes, rivers, and oceans, eventually contaminating our food and water. Also, a lot of food comes wrapped in plastic, which leads to tiny particles breaking off into our meals.
With that knowledge, you want to minimize your exposure as much as possible, as well as buy as little plastic as possible, because the more plastic you buy, the more macro- and microplastic pollution, that isn't going anywhere for the next hundreds of years. If you are a tea lover as I am, I recommend switching completely to lose leaf tea or buy from brands that manufacture their teabags without using plastic.
If you still have a cupboard full of tea in plastic teabags, you can cut the tea bag open and put the loose tea into a stainless steel tea ball or a strainer and steep it like that.