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Plastic Cutting Boards: Are Yours Safe?

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By Mila McManus, MD

Mounting research is demonstrating that our chronic exposure to plastics is a public health concern and may be one of many factors contributing to chronic inflammation and disease.  From bottled water to kitchen cutting boards, everyone can take steps to reduce and minimize exposure and ingestion of microplastics.

According to one study, scientists cut carrots on two types of plastic cutting boards, one  made with polypropylene and the other with polyethylene.  Each time the boards were used to cut carrots, the scientist measured up to as many as 1,114 microplastic particles from the board on the carrots.  Microplastic particles are pieces of plastic less than five millimeters long.  They estimated that over the course of one year, 50 grams of  microplastics, roughly equivalent to ten plastic credit cards is released onto the food being prepped.

Microplastics are being found in human lungs, blood, and even in the placenta.  These plastics have chemical additives in them which disrupt the endocrine/hormonal and reproductive system.  All plastic objects can become a source of microplastic ingestion once they begin to degrade. Most plastics don’t break down in the environment, but they do break apart into these microparticles which then can absorb chemical pollutants and microorganisms.  In other words, microplastic particles are a vehicle on which other chemicals can hitch a ride, enter the body, and wreak havoc.  Both the plastic and its passengers pose a health threat.

                Here are a few good places to begin reducing exposure to microplastics:

  • Replace plastic cutting boards with glass, marble, bamboo, or solid wood boards.  
  • Replace all of your plastic utensils and kitchenware with glass, stainless steel, and silicone.
  • Avoid drinking from disposable plastic water bottles. These bottles, if exposed to warm, humid, sunny environments (think outside of the grocery pick up area of your favorite grocer, or on non-airconditioned delivery trucks, or in your car on a hot day), degrade very easily in response to temperature change or mechanical stress.  This causes harmful chemicals to end up in the water you’re drinking from plastic bottles.
  • Filter your city tap water. Go to ewg.org for information about water contamination, problems, solutions, and recommendations.

Avoid Plastics. Be Wise. Be Well.

References:

Culpepper, J.R. Making meals without microplastics: Tips to safer cutting boards. Environmental Working Group, October 20, 2023.

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/Soo45653522007603#sec3.1

 

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