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In a comment to the best answer to question 582, Muhd writes: "I would add that it is also unhealthy if you microwave in something that is not microwave safe as toxic chemicals could migrate into the food from the container (e.g. from most plastics)."

Is there any evidence for this?
Are some plastics more dangerous than others?

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  • Related: skeptics.stackexchange.com/questions/2202/…
    – Darwy
    Commented Mar 29, 2012 at 21:53
  • If you microwave a non-microwave-safe product, e.g. styrofoam, it could at the extreme catch fire (Google shows reports of this happening). Fires can produce toxic chemicals (e.g. carbon monoxide) and carcinogenic chemicals. Likewise if you microwave something too long and it catches fire as a result. Of course if your microwave catches fire this could also have other health risks! But I don't consider this a controversial claim suitable for Skeptics.
    – Stuart F
    Commented Apr 19 at 10:07
  • I feel like the intent is whether seemingly non-destructive heating might actually be releasing something. If the container catches fire, you basically know that it's emitting chemicals as the container is emitting smoke and its particles. If your plastic container turns liquid, you can lay decent odds that that plastic is in your food. But I could see a more minor case where the plastic against the food melts enough that chemicals leach over, but not enough that you note it as melted. Commented Apr 30 at 12:43

1 Answer 1

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No

Microwaved plastics do not cause cancer.

Can I microwave food in plastic containers or covered in plastic film?
There is no scientific evidence that microwaving food in plastic containers or wrapped in clingfilm can affect the risk of cancer.

Plastic bottles - Cancer Research UK

Claim: Research has proved that microwaving foods in plastic containers releases cancer-causing agents into the foods.
Status: False.

Plastic-Tac-Toe - Snopes.com

Myth: Microwaving plastic containers and wraps releases harmful, cancer-causing substances into food.

Fact: Microwave-safe plastic containers and wraps are safe to use in the microwave.

Cancer causes: Popular myths about the causes of cancer - Mayo Clinic

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  • 6
    You had me till that third quote. "Microwave-safe plastic containers" would seem to imply that there are "microwave-unsafe" plastic containers as well.
    – Kyralessa
    Commented Jul 4, 2012 at 22:58
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    @Kyralessa: "Microwave-safe" plastics are designed not to melt in the microwave. It has nothing to do with what's being discussed here. Commented Jul 5, 2012 at 3:15
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    The question seems to ask mainly about toxicity but your answer focuses only on cancer. There are a lot of ways for something to be toxic without having to cause cancer.
    – DQdlM
    Commented Jun 11, 2013 at 16:25
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    "Microwave-safe plastic" is referring to, in my interpretation, the ability of the container to resist the heat (and survive the process unscathed), as much as it is referring to the safety of the consumer. This makes complete sense when you see a non-microwave-safe plastic container warp and melt after one burst in the microwave. Commented May 12, 2014 at 3:37
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    Note: There's no scientific evidence either way for the effects of microplastics in the diet, because they can't find a control group. Commented Apr 15 at 15:16

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