Ask a Toxicologist: Is it safe to microwave food in plastic containers? – The Pipettepen

When was the death clock you microwaved food in a plastic container ? Image used with permission. Source:

At some point in my life, I switched many of my formative food storage containers to glass containers. person told me, possibly my ma, that microwaving food in those plastic containers could cause bad chemicals from the fictile to leach into my food. Does that actually happen and what are the health consequences ? With the splendors of PubMed at my fingertips and some free clock time, I decided to find out. As in my previous mail on Teflon, I ’ ll follow the basic steps of toxicity assessment to organize my findings .

Hazard Identification and Characterization: What is the culprit? What does it do?

Bisphenol A, or BPA, is normally used in the production of polycarbonate plastics ; it is one of the most normally produced chemicals in the earth. Plastics made with BPA have been used in food packaging products since the 1960s and are used about everywhere. In fact, the 2003-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey found detectable levels of BPA in 93 % of Americans aged six years or older. Image used with permission. Source: Studies have found that BPA interacts with estrogen receptors, adenine well as other receptors in the body, potentially mimicking actions of the estrogen hormone. Estrogen is a key hormone involved in the development of generative organs ( particularly in women ), bone growth, cardiovascular health, and proper human development from embryo to adolescents. Because estrogen is a key endocrine gland signaling hormone involved in proper affair of the body, disrupting its poise through exposures to chemicals that mimic the effects of estrogen could have veto health effects. many of these adverse effects could even happen at low doses. Exposures to endocrine-disrupting chemicals are of particular concern for babies and young children, who are more sensitive during their menstruation of human exploitation. Since the heightened public awareness of BPA in child bottles during the early 2000s, companies have produced BPA-free plastic products and can linings. however, the BPA in these products has most probably been replaced with other chemicals, such as Bisphenol S and F ( BPS and BPAF ), which may be equitable as hormonally-active and endocrine-disrupting as BPA ! therefore, the food containers labeled BPA-free may still be a informant of endocrine-disrupting chemicals .

There are many other chemicals that go into the process of creating plastics that could be of concern. For our purposes today, I will limit our discussion to BPA and BPA-substitutes.

Exposure Assessment: How, how much, how often?

In our site here, exposure to BPA and/or BPA-substitutes would occur through consumption of food or water contaminated with chemicals released after microwaving plastic storage containers. so do chemicals leach from plastics after microwaving ? If so, is there adequate chemical leached to cause a response from the estrogen receptor ? The come of BPA or related chemicals released by the formative depends on the temperature of the credit card, the acidity/basicity of the container ’ mho contents, and forcible stresses and damage to plastic. Based on their assessment of the literature in 2015, the european Food Safety Authority ( EFSA ) established that the condom BPA consumption specify is 4 ug/kg of body weight/day. The EFSA concluded that stream dietary exposure to BPA is 4-15 times less than the condom terminus ad quem. The US Food and Drug Administration does not list a specific consumption limit but does state of matter that, based on its most holocene safety assessment, BPA is safe at the stream levels in foods. other studies have reported that microwaving baby bottles or water bottles increased the sum of BPA released, but these levels did not result in liberation of BPA at levels that exceed the EFSA standard. Regarding BPA-substitutes, Dr. George Bittner and his team at the University of Texas in Austin have conducted a comprehensive study on BPA-free products. They stressed the plastic under assorted conditions : exposing to UV light, microwave, and autoclaving ( extreme heat and steaming like to what happens in a dishwasher ). BPA flow chart. Illustration by Mimi Huang. After collecting the chemicals released from the stress plastics, they tested if the distill chemicals interacted with the estrogen sense organ, by exposing estrogen-responsive cells that would proliferate upon energizing of the estrogen receptor. If the cells proliferated, the product was concluded to leach chemicals with estrogen action ( EA ). The researchers found that many BPA-free products leached chemicals that were estrogen active. Thirty-one out of 40 products leached EA chemicals after exposure to UV fall, 4 out of 16 after microwave, and 5 out of 24 after autoclaving. What ’ randomness excite is that they found plastic products that did not leach estrogen-active chemicals, evening after exposure to respective stresses. thus, plastics can be made in a room that eliminates our exposure to estrogen-active chemicals !

Limitations: What’s missing?

A positive read on the cell-based estrogen natural process test used by Bittner and his team is not necessarily indicative of what will happen when the body is exposed to the same intensify. The body is by and large pretty good at breaking down and getting rid of foreign chemicals ; therefore, if a colonial was tested in animals, it may not show as much estrogen activeness as predicted by the cell-based test.

The cogitation published by Bittner et alabama. did not identify or quantify the total of chemicals extracted from the plastics. not knowing the identities of the leach chemicals is not a necessarily a concern because the chemicals, careless of what they were, caused estrogen activeness. What is a refer is that we do not know the concentrations of the chemicals causing these effects. While the study does simulate real-life habit of plastics to some extent, we can not be certain that the concentrations being assessed in this study are relevant to what we would be exposed to at home .

Risk Assessment: The Bottom Line

Is it safe to microwave food in plastic containers?

credibly for the cosmopolitan adult, but avoid doing so if possible. It ’ second constantly better to reduce exposure if you can ! Microwaving BPA containing plastics resulted in unblock of some BPA, though not exceeding the established safe degree. Studies show that exposure to low doses of BPA could have effects on human health, peculiarly during early stages in life. Some BPA-free plastics do release chemicals with estrogen natural process after microwaving. The health effects of exposure to many BPA-substitutes and other chemicals used in fictile product may be similar to that of BPA. The scientific research on both BPA-substitutes and BPA is ongoing, which will help clarify what exposure level is indeed condom. If you are concerned, the NIEHS has recommendations for limiting exposure to BPA and related compounds :

  • Don ’ triiodothyronine microwave polycarbonate credit card food containers. Polycarbonate is strong and durable, but over time it may break down from over use at high temperatures .
  • Plastic containers have recycle codes on the bottom. Some, but not all, plastics that are marked with recycle codes 3 or 7 may be made with BPA .
  • Reduce your use of can foods .
  • When possible, opt for methamphetamine, porcelain or stainless steel steel containers, particularly for hot food or liquids .
  • Use baby bottles that are BPA free.

Edited by Lydia Morris and Jaime Brozowski