New York, Jun 2 (IANS): Love to use cutting boards to easily chop vegetables? Beware, these boards, both plastic and wooden, are a potentially significant source of harmful microplastics in human food, warned a study, led by researchers including one of Indian-origin.
Ingested microplastics are known to cause several health issues, such as increased inflammation, impaired fasting glucose, insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.
These can also cause cell damage, leading to inflammation and allergic reactions, as well as lead to reproductive harm and obesity.
The researchers from North Dakota State University report that chopping up carrots on wood and plastic boards could produce tens of millions of microparticles a year.
However, a toxicity test showed no substantial effect on mouse cell survival from polyethylene or wood microparticles released during chopping.
Most cutting boards are made of rubber, bamboo, wood or plastic. Over time, these kitchen implements develop grooves and slash marks from mincing, slicing and chopping food. Recently, researchers have shown that some plastic board materials, including polypropylene and polyethylene, can shed nano- and micro-sized flecks when cut with knives.
In the new study, published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, the researchers collected and measured the micro-sized particles released from cutting boards, which were repeatedly struck by a knife. In their tests, they compared five people's chopping patterns and one person's chopping on different materials with and without carrots.
From the results, the team calculated that food preparation could produce 14 to 71 million polyethylene microplastics and 79 million polypropylene microplastics from their respective boards each year.
While yearly estimates were not determined for wooden boards, the researchers reported that these items sloughed off 4 to 22 times more microparticles than plastic ones in different tests.
But even though many microparticles formed, the researchers found that polyethylene microplastics and wood microparticles released when chopping carrots didn't appear to significantly change mouse cells' viability in lab tests.