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Many people put plastic containers in the microwave when reheating leftovers from your favorite restaurant or clean plastic containers in the dishwasher. But according to a new study, putting them in the microwave or a dishwashing machine could be hazardous to your child’s health.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), there is growing evidence that plastic containers used for packaging can contain harmful chemicals when they are heated.

The AAP notes that heating plastic bottles and containers in the microwave or washing them with extreme heat in a dishwasher can increase the chances of the plastic materials releasing dangerous chemicals. 

Chemicals released from putting plastic containers it the microwave or dishwasher

The cause of concern about putting plastic containers in the microwave or dishwasher isn’t really the container itself, but rather the potentially harmful chemicals that are released when the container is exposed to extreme heat from a microwave or dishwasher. 

 

BPAs, which are used to harden plastic containers and line metal cans can affect the timing of puberty, increase body fat and cause problems in the nervous and immune systems. Other chemicals, such as phthalates and PFC, can affect male genital growth, cause cardiovascular disease and affect the thyroid system, according to the AAP.

Dyes, glues, and plastics used in food packaging have been linked to other serious health problems including brain development, obesity, autism and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.  

putting plastic containers in the microwave or dishwasher could release harmful chemicals.

How to limit exposure to chemicals found in plastic containers

Since the recent study shows evidence that heating plastic containers in the microwave or dishwasher can increase the exposure to certain chemicals, the AAP suggests using other alternatives such as glass or stainless steel, when possible. 

What type of plastic containers should you avoid?

Avoid plastic containers with recycling codes 3 (phthalates), 6 (styrene) and 7 (bisphenols) unless they are labeled as "biobased" or "greenware," according to the study.

Aside from warning people not to put plastic containers in the microwave, AAP is calling for reform to the U.S. food additive regulatory process because of chemicals found in preservatives and processed foods. Thousands of additives used to preserve food and make food packaging are “generally recognized as safe,” but the AAP is calling for a reevaluation because many of the additives used in food and food packaging were approved in the 1950s.

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