Tea Lovers Beware: Your Brew May Contain Billions of Microplastics

Tea Lovers Beware: Your Brew May Contain Billions of Microplastics

Tea Lovers Beware: Your Brew May Contain Billions of Microplastics

Are you an avid tea drinker? If so, you might be unknowingly sipping on billions of tiny plastic particles with your favorite brew. A recent study conducted by McGill University professor Nathalie Tufenkji has shed light on a concerning issue for tea enthusiasts.

In this study, Tufenkji and her team examined the release of microplastics and nanoplastics from four premium tea bag brands that use silk-like bags rather than the typical paper variety. To our surprise, the results were alarming.

After submerging the plastic tea bags in hot water, the researchers found that a single tea bag released an astonishing 11.6 billion microplastics and 3.1 billion nanoplastics into a single cup. This is significantly higher than what other studies have found in common foods, such as table salt, which has been reported to contain much lower levels of plastic contamination.

Tufenkji stressed that the health risks of ingesting these microplastics and nanoplastics remain unknown, as her study primarily focused on the quantity of plastic released by these tea bags. While preliminary research on water fleas exposed to steeping water did show behavioral changes and altered body shapes, there's no direct evidence of harm to humans.

What's more, the study discovered that fewer particles were released when tea bags were steeped at room temperature for five minutes. However, it's important to note that most tea drinkers prefer hotter water, and heating water above 95 degrees Celsius could cause plastic tea bags to release even more particles. Additionally, even "food-grade" plastics may degrade or leach toxins when exposed to temperatures above 40 degrees Celsius.

So, what's the best course of action for tea lovers? Tufenkji, for one, has switched to loose-leaf tea or paper tea bags to avoid plastic contamination. While there's no need to give up your favorite beverage just yet, it's essential to be mindful of the potential plastic content in your tea and make informed choices when selecting your brew. The long-term health effects of ingesting microplastics and nanoplastics are still unclear, but it's always better to err on the side of caution.

Source: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/article-mcgill-study-finds-some-premium-tea-bags-leach-billions-of-2/

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