Plastic tea bags release billions of microplastics, study finds
Canadian researchers have found that plastic tea bags are shedding enormous amounts of plastic particles as tea is being made.
MONTREAL — New research from McGill University has found that plastic tea bags leak plastic particles such as microparticles and nanoparticles into brewed tea.
Researchers conducted tests by removing tea leaves and then dipping the plastic tea bags into 95 degree Celsius water for five minutes, according to the study published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology.
Scientists tested tea bags from four different companies. The researchers did not name the tea brands they tested.
Researchers analyzed the tea brewed from the plastic tea bags using an electron microscope and found that roughly 11.6 billion microplastic particles and 3.1 billion nanoplastic particles were released into a single cup of brewed tea.
Further testing revealed that the plastic particles were made of nylon and polyethylene terephthalate, or PET, which is the same material used to make the tea bags.
According to the study, the amount of plastic particles released from the tea bags are "several orders of magnitude higher" than the amount of plastics previously found in other foods.
Laura Hernandez, a researcher involved with the study, explained to the BBC that this could also be due to the fact that a piece of plastic, referring to the tea bag, is exposed to boiling hot water.
The study did not look into the health implications of plastic consumption, though Hernandez said in a McGill University news release that more research is needed to find out the effects of plastic on human health.
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