The ingestion and accumulation of microplastics is a serious threat to the health and survival of humans and other organisms given the increasing use of daily-use plastic products, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, whether direct microplastic contamination from plastic packaging is a threat to human health remains unclear. We analyzed the market demand for plastic packaging in Asia-Pacific, North America, and Europe and identified the commonly used plastic food packaging products. We found that food containers exposed to high-temperature released more than 10 million microplastics per mL in water. Recycled plastic food packaging was demonstrated to continuously leach micro- and nanoplastics. In vitro cell engulfing experiments revealed that both micro- and nanoplastic leachates are readily taken up by murine macrophages without any preconditioning, and that short-term microplastic exposure may induce inflammation while exposure to nanoplastic substantially suppressed the lysosomal activities of macrophages. We demonstrated that the ingestion of micro- and nanoplastics released from food containers can exert differential negative effects on macrophage activities, proving that the explosive growth in the use of plastic packaging can poses significant health risks to consumers.
Keywords: Macrophage activity; Microplastics; Nanoplastics; Plastic food packages.
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