Heating plastics in the microwave may cause chemicals to leach into your foods.

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.

Plastic Not-So-Fantastic: How the Versatile Material Harms the Environment and Human Health

“Plastics are very long-lived products that could potentially have service over decades, and yet our main use of these lightweight, inexpensive materials are as single-use items that will go to the garbage dump within a year, where they’ll persist for centuries,” Richard Thompson, lead editor of the report, said in an interview.

Evidence is mounting that the chemical building blocks that make plastics so versatile are the same components that might harm people and the environment. And its production and disposal contribute to an array of environmental problems, too. For example:

  • Chemicals added to plastics are absorbed by human bodies. Some of these compounds have been found to alter hormones or have other potential human health effects.
  • Plastic debris, laced with chemicals and often ingested by marine animals, can injure or poison wildlife.
  • Floating plastic waste, which can survive for thousands of years in water, serves as mini transportation devices for invasive species, disrupting habitats.
  • Plastic buried deep in landfills can leach harmful chemicals that spread into groundwater.


It is difficult to avoid BPA exposure from plastics altogether, but it is necessary to take extra precautions for certain periods of your life. BPA may pose a greater risk during prenatal development, childhood, and puberty because hormones play a more important role during those periods. Not only are BPAs harmful to developing children, but they have harmful effects on adults and even pets as well. This is why you may have seen water bottles, pet feeding dishes, or baby bottles labeled “BPA free.”

If you’re interested in protecting yourself and your family, the best thing you can do is avoid food and drink packaged in plastic as much as possible. It is also a good idea to keep an eye on the research as scientists learn more about what BPA might or might not be doing to our bodies. Staying informed about the research and BPA-free alternatives can go a long way to a healthier life for you and your loved ones.