Cutting Boards: An Overlooked Source of Microplastics in Human Food?

Environ Sci Technol. 2023 Jun 6;57(22):8225-8235. doi: 10.1021/acs.est.3c00924. Epub 2023 May 23.


Plastic cutting boards are a potentially significant source of microplastics in human food. Thus, we investigated the impact of chopping styles and board materials on microplastics released during chopping. As chopping progressed, the effects of chopping styles on microplastic release became evident. The mass and number of microplastics released from polypropylene chopping boards were greater than polyethylene by 5-60% and 14-71%, respectively. Chopping on polyethylene boards was associated with a greater release of microplastics with a vegetable (i.e., carrots) than chopping without carrots. Microplastics showed a broad, bottom-skewed normal distribution, dominated by <100 μm spherical-shaped microplastics. Based on our assumptions, we estimated a per-person annual exposure of 7.4-50.7 g of microplastics from a polyethylene chopping board and 49.5 g of microplastics from a polypropylene chopping board. We further estimated that a person could be exposed to 14.5 to 71.9 million polyethylene microplastics annually, compared to 79.4 million polypropylene microplastics from chopping boards. The preliminary toxicity study of the polyethylene microplastics did not show adverse effects on the viability of mouse fibroblast cells for 72 h. This study identifies plastic chopping boards as a substantial source of microplastics in human food, which requires careful attention.

Keywords: FTIR; human exposure; polyethylene; polypropylene; toxicity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Microplastics*
  • Plastics
  • Polyethylene / analysis
  • Polypropylenes
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical* / analysis


  • Microplastics
  • Plastics
  • Polypropylenes
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical
  • Polyethylene