Limiting your exposure to microplastics at home

Recent research reveals that microplastics may be prevalent in our daily lives For example, tiny particles of plastic have been discovered in human lungs and blood.

“The goal is not to get to zero exposure. It's to try to reduce your exposure as much as possible,” said Dr. Sheela Sathyanarayana, a UW Medicine pediatrician and an environmental epidemiologist.

She says everyday plastic products, from food storage containers to water bottles, are made with a wide range of chemicals, which can pose harms to our health. Heating or degrading plastic is a common way to be exposed to both chemicals and microplastics.

“We recommend not heating food in plastic containers, because chemicals leach from that plastic into the food product,” said Sathyanarayana. “Anything that can degrade the plastic is what could potentially cause harm.”

She adds that storing acidic food for extended periods of time or placing plastic in the dishwasher can have a similar leaching effect by degrading plastic containers. Phasing out plastic cups or containers in favor of stainless steel or glass alternatives is also a step toward less exposure.

Practicing general cleanliness at home can also cut down the spread of microplastics. Some housekeeping tips range from taking off your shoes when coming inside, to removing dust and vacuuming frequently.

“We know that a very healthy and supportive home environment can really counteract some negative harms of these kinds of chemicals,” said Sathyanarayana.

Access broadcast-ready video and audio assets on microplastics.

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