Plastic Tea Bags Release Millions of Nano-plastics in Tea, Study Finds

Plastic pollution has become a major and global concern. Before this, you might have heard about the presence of plastic in the ocean or soil. But have you thought of the little tea bags we use? It seems like plastic is present everywhere around us in waters, air, land, and now tea. Scientists are warning about the micro plastics that a plastic tea bag can emit into water. Nowadays, many companies are using plastic for making tea bags rather than conventional paper. As plastic is a non-biodegradable substance, it does not end-up, it just degrades with time. Notably, plastic can break down into tiny micro- often nano-sized particles that can measure hundreds of times smaller than the thickness of human hair.

Researchers from McGill University in Canada have studied the impact of putting three different company’s tea bags in boiling water. They have discovered that one plastic tea bag emits up to 11.6 billion micro-plastic particles. Even more, it releases around 3.1 billion nanoparticles of plastic. Thus the latest research reveals that a cup of tea has the highest amount of plastic ever found in other products like food or drinks. So might have got an idea of how steeping a single plastic teabag could spoil the beverage.

Laura Hernandez, a chemical engineer, has led the team consisting of her colleagues from McGill University. The team had removed all the contents of the tea bag and washed them for getting best results. After that, to simulate the tea-brewing process, they started heating empty plastic tea bags in water boiling at 95 °C. The team boiled it for some time and screened the resulting water matter under an electron microscope. In the end, scientists have discovered the structure of the emitted particles similar to the original teabags made up of PET (polyethylene terephthalate) and nylon. As per researchers, they are unaware of the impact of consuming these particles. Thus it needs further research to analyze potential risk. The team has published outcomes of their study in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.