Microplastics: Premium teabags leak billions of Contaminants – Research
Some premium tea bags may be leaving billions of microscopic plastic particles in your cup, new research indicates. Research report reported by BBC News
Canadian researchers found that some plastic tea bags drop high levels of microplastics into water.
Microplastics have widely been observed in the environment, in tap and bottled waters, and in certain foods.
The World Health Organization (WHO) states such particles in drinking water don’t appear to pose a risk.
But the WHO said the findings were based on”limited data” and it called for increased research on the situation.
The researchers, from McGill University in Montreal, Canada, also called for more research into the health effects of microplastics, defined as small (less than 5mm in length) pieces of any sort of plastic debris.
For the analysis, they purchased four different industrial teas packed in plastic teabags.
Many teabags are made from paper, but some premium brands have switched to using a sort of plastic mesh instead for their merchandise.
The researchers removed the tea and put the empty teabags in water heated to 95C (203F), like they were brewing tea.
They discovered that a single plastic teabag released about 11.6bn microplastic and 3.1bn smaller nanoplastic particles to the hot water. The particles are completely invisible to the naked eye.
The level of”particles discharged from the teabag packaging are several orders of magnitude higher than plastic loads previously reported in other foods”, based on the analysis, which was published by the journal of Environmental Science and Technology.
Chemical Laura Hernandez says they were amazed by the amount published compared to those recorded in other research into things like bottled water.
She says that the discrepancy could be in part due to the fact that they focused on the tiniest of particles – both microplastics, which are about the depth of a single hair, and nanoplastics, which can be a thousand times bigger.
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‘No apparent risk’ from microplastics in water
But she also said it might be caused by the fact”it is a bit of plastic being subjected to boiling water” and not water at room temperature.
Ms Hernandez noted this is an opportunity for customers, like those seeking to lower their plastic usage, to be more conscious of their purchases.
“There is really no need to bundle tea in plastic, which in the end of the day becomes single-use plastic,” she explained.” [And] which is contributing to you not only ingesting plastic but to the ecological burden of plastic”