Microplastics in everyday kitchen items: what you need to know

We don't realize it, but some objects we use every day in the kitchen can become a source of dangerous microplastics: here's what they are

Microplastics are now found everywhere, making it challenging to track their spread. These tiny particles result from the breakdown of larger plastics and are linked to severe health issues, such as heart attacks, fertility problems, and cancer.

But where do these dangerous particles come from? Often, we generate them ourselves through our everyday choices and household items that release them into our environment.

In this article, we highlight five common kitchen products that contribute to microplastic pollution and suggest more eco-friendly and safer alternatives.

Plastic cutting boards

Convenient, lightweight, and usually very colorful, plastic cutting boards can expose humans to millions of microplastics annually.

The reason is straightforward: using a sharp knife on the plastic surface causes the board to break down, releasing thousands of particles directly into our food.

If you prefer not to invest in a wooden cutting board, which requires substantial maintenance, you can opt for a tempered glass cutting board, which is easier to clean.

Microwave containers

Plastic containers labeled as “microwave-safe” can release microplastics into food when heated, especially if they are old and have undergone many washes.

To reduce microplastic exposure in the kitchen, consider investing in microwave containers made of glass or ceramic.

Ice cube trays

Plastic ice cube trays can also contribute to microplastic contamination: freezing the plastic can cause the release of particles into the water, similar to the effects of heating.

Stainless steel trays are a good alternative, enhancing the aesthetic of beverages and cooling faster. Silicone trays are another sustainable and safe choice for making ice cubes.

Paper cups

Though they may seem eco-friendly, paper cups often contain a layer of plastic to prevent liquid leaks (indicated by the term “Plastic in the product”).

This plastic layer, usually high-density polyethylene (HDPE), complicates recycling and exposes consumers to significant amounts of microplastics and harmful chemicals.

There are more eco-friendly and safer options, such as glass cups or reusable stainless steel bottles.

Tea bags

Many tea bags are made with polypropylene, a non-biodegradable plastic, and even paper tea bags can contain traces of plastic in the sealant.

When these tea bags are immersed in hot water, they release microplastics into our drink: a single cup of tea can contain billions of nanoplastics.

To avoid this issue (and reduce waste), use loose tea leaves and a strainer, or opt for tea bags made from organic cotton or linen.

The article draws upon studies published and recommendations from international institutions and/or experts. We do not make claims in the medical-scientific field and report the facts as they are. Sources are indicated at the end of each article.
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