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Microplastics in take-out food containers
Du, F.; Cai, H.; Zhang, Q.; Chen, Q.; Shi, H. (2020). Microplastics in take-out food containers. J. Hazard. Mater. 399: 122969.
In: Journal of hazardous materials. Elsevier: Amsterdam; Lausanne; New York; Oxford; Shannon; Tokyo. ISSN 0304-3894; e-ISSN 1873-3336, more
Peer reviewed article  

Available in  Authors 

    Human health
Author keywords
    Microplastics; Take-out container; Human ingestion

Authors  Top 
  • Du, F.
  • Cai, H.
  • Zhang, Q.
  • Chen, Q.
  • Shi, H.

    Microplastics have been detected in various media including water, sediment, and seafood, whereas there are few studies focusing on microplastics in take-out containers. In this study, we collected take-out containers made of common polymer materials (polypropylene, PP; polystyrene, PS; polyethylene, PE; polyethylene terephthalate, PET) from five cities in China. Microplastics in the containers were analyzed after different treatments (direct flushing and flushing after immersing with hot water). Our results showed that microplastics were found in all take-out containers and abundance ranged from 3 to 29 items/container. The highest abundance occurred in PS containers with rough surface. The polymer types of some detected particles were the same as those of original containers, accounting for 30% of the total microplastics; other types included polyester, rayon, acrylic, and nylon. Treating the containers with hot water did not influence microplastic abundance. Our study indicates that microplastics in take-out containers come from atmospheric fallout and flakes from container’s inner surfaces. Under slight mechanical force, loose structure and rough surface of PS containers can flake off microplastics, entering water more easily. Based on the microplastic abundance in take-out containers, people who order take-out food 4–7 times weekly may ingest 12–203 pieces of microplastics through containers.

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