Using new micro-differential light technology, collaborators at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Nanjing University in China discovered that steam disinfection of silicone rubber baby bottle nipples exposes infants and the environment to microplastic and nanoplastic particles. Did.
With health Environmental risk These very Fine particles Although still unknown, microplastic pollution is a growing global concern for land, sea and humans. This study is the first to identify this new source of microplastic contamination.
“Baby is the most sensitive group to all pollutants, not just microplastics (less than 5 mm by definition),” said Professor of Environmental and Soil Chemistry and Director of the UMass Amherst Stockbridge School of Agriculture. , Studies published in the journal Nature nanotechnology.. “Conventional technology cannot detect these. Small particlesAnd the smaller the particles, the greater the physiological effect. “
Xing collaborated with YuSu, lead author and co-author Rong Ji, an environmental scientist at the Faculty of Environmental Studies, Nanjing University, and other colleagues in China.
“Silicone rubber was previously thought to be a thermally stable polymer material, but we’ve noticed that it deteriorates with repeated moist heat disinfection,” says Su. “Plastic aging and decomposition are the major sources of microplastics in the environment. We have proposed and confirmed the following: silicone rubber It can be decomposed into microplastics and even nanoplastics (less than 1 µm) by moist heating. ”
A previous study by Xing, who has been on the world’s most cited annual list of researchers each year since the analysis began in 2014, and a Chinese colleague are known for widespread pollution of the ocean. Nanoplastic Surface water And land-internalized by plants and also Reduces lipid digestion In a simulated human gastrointestinal system.
Conventional technology cannot detect particles smaller than about 20 micrometers, which is about half the size of human hair. At Nanjing University, researchers used optical photothermal infrared (O-PTIR) microspectroscopy to examine rubber nipples. This is a new technology that can analyze the composition and morphology of materials.
The spectroscopic spectroscope showed a large number of small flake or oil film micros and nanoplastics as small as 0.6 micrometers (600 nanometers) in the wash water of steam-sterilized rubber nipples. This technique also demonstrated submicrometer decomposition vapor etching and chemical modification of the papilla surface.
“The results show that by the age of one, babies can ingest more than 660,000 elastomer-derived micro-sized plastics (MP) … Global MP emissions from nipple disinfection can be as high as 5.2×10. There is a possibility13 “Particles of the Year”, the research paper states.
Xing et al. Point out that similar silicone friction-based consumer products, such as bakeware, cups, and kitchenware sealing rings, are more likely to produce microplastic and nanoplastic particles when heated above 100 ° C. I am. They continue their research. For the release of particles from various plastic objects to the environment.
“We have identified this important new source of microplastics for the environment,” says Xing. “Some plastics flow into the sewers. They enter water and landfills. They do not break down easily and therefore have a very long life in the environment.”
“The environmental behavior of these silicone rubber-derived microplastics and nanoplastics is unknown,” said Rong Ji of Nanjing University. environment.. ”
Yu Su et al, Steam Disinfection emits micro (nano) plastic from silicone rubber nipples, as inspected by optical photothermal infrared microspectroscopy. Nature nanotechnology (2021). DOI: 10.1038 / s41565-021-00998-x
University of Massachusetts Amherst
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