Plastic tea bags discard billions of micro plastic particles into the cup

McGill University in Canada conducted a research study on Plastic tea bags. Researchers found that the classic beverage may come with a hefty dose of micro plastic which is released from plastic tea bags because manufacturers move away from the traditional paper option.

Plastic tea bags discard billions of micro plastic particles into the cupProfessor of Chemical Engineering Nathalie Tufenkji and her team discovered that a single plastic tea bag shed billions of micro plastic pieces into the water, releasing about 11 billion micro plastic and 3 billion nano plastic particles into a single cup of tea.

According to McGill’s research, the levels of plastic recorded in a cup of tea were thousands of times higher than those reported previously in other foods.

Dr Tufenkji said “We were very, very surprised,”

Medical Daily reported that “We thought [plastic tea bags] maybe release a couple of hundred plastic particles, may be a few thousand. So we were really shocked when we saw they’re releasing billions of particles into a cup of tea.” Further testing of the bag themselves revealed that the material of the shards was made of the same plastic materials as Polyethylene terephthalate (PET), a plastic resin widely used for packaging foods and beverages”.

An estimated 96 per cent of tea bags contain polypropylene, a substance used to seal them closed and to ensure they keep their shape.

“While the possible health effects of ingesting these particles are currently unknown, the new research published in the American Chemical Society journal Environmental Science & Technology suggests further investigation is needed,” the summary said.

More research is needed to determine if the plastics could have more subtle or chronic effects on humans. Last year research found that 90 per cent of the world’s bottled water is contaminated with dangerous micro plastics.

“Widespread contamination” with plastic was found in the study, led by micro plastic researcher Sherri Mason of the State University of New York at Fredonia.