Microplastics

Research Highlights

Few studies have addressed how child are exposed to nano- and microplastics (particles of plastic that are microscopic or even smaller). Yet children’s immature defense mechanisms make them particularly vulnerable to microplastics, just like with other environmental contaminants. Tasting, licking, and chewing plastic toys and textiles may expose children to microplastics. Dust can also contain  microplastics, and children who crawl on the ground may eat dust through their typical hand-to-mouth behavior. 

Research

The health impact of microparticles are unclear, but prior studies have linked chemical tracers of microplastics, such as BPA and phthalates, with brain-based disorders and infertility

A recent study found that infants fed using plastic bottles may be exposed to up to ~1.5 million microplastic particles every day! Other studies have found microplastics in house dust, food packaging, and tap water. 

Studies have also located microplastics in infant stool (Schwabl study) and (Zhang article) and human placenta after delivery at the hospital (Ragusa study) and (Braun study). 

You can read a 2022 review about nano- and microplastics and child health by ISCHE researchers and collaborators in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives: Sripada et al.

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"Infants should be fed using stainless steel or wooden spoons as opposed to plastic or silicone spoons". 

— Dr. Jane Muncke
     Food Packaging Forum

"No one knows exactly how much microplastic a child takes in. But several studies indicate that a child today starts absorbing microplastics into their body even as a fetus. This gives us cause for concern." 

— Kam Sripada PhD
Norwegian University of Science & Technology

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Prevention Tips

We believe that the biggest steps must be taken by governments and producers to reduce exposure to microplastics early in life. Here are some steps families can take to reduce their exposure:

  • Reducing plastic contact of foods for children by using glass or metal bottles and containers and transferring foods out of plastic packaging
  • avoiding baby foods with plastic packaging and storage
  • Regular wet-cleaning of the home 
  • Choose personal care products without microbeads, fragrances, or phthalates
  • Avoid building materials with plastics such as PVC

For more information about the disruptive nature of microplastics, watch the 6 minute video: 

"Infants should be fed using stainless steel or wooden spoons as opposed to plastic or silicone spoons". 

— Dr. Jane Muncke
     Food Packaging Forum


"No one knows exactly how much microplastic a child takes in. But several studies indicate that a child today starts absorbing microplastics into their body even as a fetus. This gives us cause for concern." 

— Kam Sripada PhD
Norwegian University of Science & Technology

Other Facts You Might Find Interesting

Environmental toxic chemicals are all around us. We are constantly being exposed to different toxic chemicals. 

PBDEs are found in common household products and can impact fetal brain development. Learn how to avoid these toxic chemicals below.

Air pollution is a major risk factor for heart disease, the leading cause of death worldwide. The problem is, we can’t escape it, it’s all around us.