Chopping boards are useful kitchen utensils that can be found in most homes and restaurants. But a small study published in the American Chemical Society’s journal Environmental Science & Technology reveals that they are an overlooked source of micrometer-sized particles.
According to scientists, cutting carrots on wooden and plastic chopping boards can generate tens of millions of microparticles each year. However, the toxicity test revealed that polyethylene or wood microparticles emitted during chopping had no significant effect on mouse cell viability.
Most cutting boards are made of rubber, bamboo, wood or plastic. Over time, these kitchen tools will develop grooves and marks from chopping, slicing and chopping food. Recently, researchers have shown that some plastic sheet materials, including polypropylene and polyethylene, can remove nano- and micro-stains when cut by a knife.
However, these studies did not assess how much of these microplastics could be produced during realistic food preparation scenarios.
This would be important information because the particles could have a negative impact on health if ingested. So Syeed Md Iskander and colleagues wanted to investigate the microparticles that would be released when chopping vegetables on plastic and wooden boards, as well as any potential toxicity of these tiny materials.
The researchers collected and measured microparticles released from chopping boards that were repeatedly struck with a knife. In their tests, they compared the chopping patterns of five people and one person chopping on different materials with and without carrots.
From the results, the team calculated that food preparation could produce between 14 and 71 million polyethylene microplastics and 79 million polypropylene microplastics from their respective plates annually. Estimates may vary depending on:
– Individual’s chopping style.
– Plate material.
– Force required to cut through food.
– Whether the ingredients are coarsely or finely chopped.
– And how often the cutting board is used.
Annual estimates were not established for wooden Chopping boards, although the researchers reported that these items separated 4 to 22 times more microparticles than plastic in various tests.
But even though many microparticles were formed, the researchers found that polyethylene microplastics and wood microparticles released when cutting carrots did not significantly change the viability of mouse cells in laboratory tests. While plastic chopping boards are easy to clean, the researchers concluded that other options could be used to reduce potential microplastic contamination in food.