A plastic tea bag turned out to release more than 10 billion plastic particles into the cup


Avital Pinnick

Formerly tea bags were mainly made of paper, but in recent years, plastic tea bags that have a silky texture and fine mesh have been widely used. Researchers researched on plastic tea bags and found that a large amount of plastic particles were released into tea cups when extracting tea.

Plastic Teabags Release Billions of Microparticles and Nanoparticles into Tea | Environmental Science & Technology

Some tea bags may shed billions of microplastics per cup | CBC News

One day, Nathalie Tufenkji , professor of chemical engineering at McGill University , was surprised to see a plastic tea bag in the tea ordered from a coffee shop one morning. Tufenkji, who thought that “plastic plastic bags should have released fine plastic particles into the drink”, asked students to purchase large quantities of plastic tea bags.

Some plastic tea bags widely used around the world have a pyramid shape. The pyramid type has the merit that the tea leaves inside are easy to spread, so it is used not only for black tea but also for herbal tea.



First, Tufenkji et al. Cut the collected plastic tea bags and washed away the tea leaves inside and the plastic particles that might have occurred during the cutting. After that, the tea bag without tea leaves was soaked in hot water heated to 95 degrees as in the normal process of making black tea.

After a while, a sample of hot water was collected and analyzed by Tufenkji et al. With an electron microscope. A large amount of plastic particles were found in the sample. In addition, since the composition of plastic particles was the same as that of tea bags, it was confirmed that the fine plastic particles were derived from tea bags. Furthermore, it was confirmed that the plastic particles were released even when the tea bag was not cut to take out the tea leaves, and it was confirmed that the cause of the plastic particle release was not the tea bag cutting.

Then, the number of counted plastic particles in the sample extrapolation by, seems to estimate the number of plastic particles released into the cup from one plastic tea bag. As a result, it became clear that 11.6 billion microplastics were released from a single tea bag, and 3.1 billion nanoplastics were released that were finer than microplastics.


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Each particle is so small that the average plastic particle per cup is only 16 micrograms, but this number is higher than that found in other bottled beverages and foods. “People literally add plastic to their drinks,” Tufenkji says.

At the time of writing, it's not clear what adverse effects the fine plastic particles have on the human body. However, as many people around the world use plastic tea bags, Tufenkji believes that the potential health risks should be investigated. When Tufenkji actually put a daphnia in water containing a lot of fine plastic particles, Daphnia `` swim crazy '', and the plastic particles may be a stress for small organisms Insist that it was suggested.

Tufenkji pointed out that the effects of plastic particles need to be further studied with other animals. Tufenkji et al., On the other hand, said they will continue to study how much plastic particles other plastic packaging will release into food and beverages.

by JB

in Science,   Junk Food, Posted by log1h_ik