Heating plastics in microwave may cause chemicals to leach into foods
Plastic is everywhere. It's in bowls, wraps, and a host of bottles and bags used to store foods and beverages. But in recent years more people have been asking whether exposing our food (and ourselves) to all of this plastic is safe.
Studies have found that certain chemicals in plastic can leach out of the plastic and into the food and beverages we eat. Some of these chemicals have been linked to health problems such as metabolic disorders (including obesity) and reduced fertility.
This leaching can occur even faster and to a greater degree when plastic is exposed to heat. This means you might be getting an even higher dose of potentially harmful chemicals simply by microwaving your leftovers in a plastic container.
While they’re typically made from oil and natural gas, plastics can also be made from renewable materials like wood pulp and cotton linters.
The main concern with microwaving plastic is that it can cause additives — some of which are harmful — to leach into your foods and beverages.
The primary chemicals of concern are bisphenol A (BPA) and a class of chemicals called phthalates, both of which are used to increase the flexibility and durability of plastic.
These chemicals — especially BPA — disrupt your body’s hormones and have been linked to obesity, diabetes, and reproductive harm.
Still, studies have shown that even BPA-free plastics can release other hormone-disrupting chemicals like phthalates, or BPA alternatives like bisphenol S and F (BPS and BPF), into foods when microwaved.
Therefore, it’s generally a good idea to avoid microwaving plastic, unless the container is specifically labeled safe for microwave use.