Warning: Plastic Teabags Release Microscopic Particles Into Tea

Warning: Plastic Teabags Release Microscopic Particles Into Tea

Many individuals are attempting to cut back their plastic use, however some tea producers are transferring in the wrong way: changing conventional paper teabags with plastic ones. Now, researchers reporting in ACS’ Environmental Science & Know-how have found {that a} soothing cup of the brewed beverage might include a dose of micro- and nano-sized plastics shed from the baggage. Doable well being results of ingesting these particles are at the moment unknown, the researchers say.

Over time, plastic breaks down into tiny microplastics and even smaller nanoplastics, the latter being lower than 100 nanometers (nm) in dimension. (For comparability, a human hair has a diameter of about 75,000 nm.) Scientists have detected the microscopic particles within the setting, aquatic organisms and the meals provide, however they don’t know but whether or not they’re dangerous to people. Nathalie Tufenkji and colleagues puzzled whether or not not too long ago launched plastic teabags might be releasing micro- and nanoplastics into the beverage throughout brewing. In addition they wished to discover the consequences of the launched particles on small aquatic organisms referred to as Daphnia magna, or water fleas, that are mannequin organisms usually utilized in environmental research.

To conduct their evaluation, the researchers bought 4 completely different industrial teas packaged in plastic teabags. The researchers minimize open the baggage, eliminated the tea leaves and washed the empty baggage. Then, they heated the teabags in containers of water to simulate brewing circumstances. Utilizing electron microscopy, the staff discovered {that a} single plastic teabag at brewing temperature launched about 11.6 billion microplastic and three.1 billion nanoplastic particles into the water. These ranges had been 1000’s of instances greater than these reported beforehand in different meals. In one other experiment, the researchers handled water fleas with numerous doses of the micro- and nanoplastics from teabags. Though the animals survived, they did present some anatomical and behavioral abnormalities. Extra analysis is required to find out if the plastics might have extra delicate or continual results on people, the researchers say.

Reference: “Plastic Teabags Release Billions of Microparticles and Nanoparticles into Tea” by Laura M. Hernandez, Elvis Genbo Xu, Hans C. E. Larsson, Rui Tahara, Vimal B. Maisuria and Nathalie Tufenkji, 25 September 2019, Environmental Science & Know-how.
DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.9b02540
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