A new Canadian study has recently revealed that we could be accidentally consuming billions and billions of nanoplastics and microplastics, every single time we have a cup of tea. According to university researchers, some tea bags have the potential to steep multiple billions of tiny plastic particles into our drinks, and we won’t even realize it.

In a shocking report from researchers at Montreal’s McGill University, it was revealed that certain tea bags have the ability to release several billions of microplastics and nano plastics into our drink, as the tea is brewing. According to the study’s co-author, Dr. Nathalie Tufenkji, this is a pretty shocking amount.

Tufenkji explained to Global News, “We thought [plastic teabags] maybe release a couple of hundred [plastic] particles, maybe a few thousand. So we were really shocked when we saw they’re releasing billions of particles into a cup of tea.”

In fact, the exact numbers are even more shocking. According to the university's report, plastic tea bags, which are often more expensive, come in a pyramid shape and have a "silken" texture, can release up to 11.6 billion microplastics into every single cup of tea.

If that was not scary enough, there’s more. Each plastic tea bag also releases up to 3.1 billion nanoplastics too, on top of the 11.6 billion microplastics. This means that every cup of tea could contain up to 14.7 billion tiny plastic particles. Ew!

Tufenkji, who is a professor of chemical engineering explained that the idea behind the study came from drinking her own cup of tea one day, and wondering if the boiling water could be breaking down the tea bag’s plastic material into her drink.

Upon analyzing several brands of plastic tea bags, which were steeped in hot water for five minutes, Tufenkji and her team were shocked to discover two different types of plastic left in the drink. They discovered polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and nylon, yuck!

The true health impacts of ingesting microplastics from tea bags is not known, as more research is needed.

That said, earlier this year, the World Health Organization recently released its first-ever report, focusing on microplastics in drinking water. While they concluded that ingesting these particles is unlikely to be seriously harmful, it is still pretty gross and uncomfortable to think about!

As plastics continue to be discovered in our oceans, in the bodies of animals, and now in our tea, Tufenkji simply suggests cutting out plastic wherever you can, and definitely avoiding plastic tea bags if possible.


There are stories everywhere. If you spot a newsworthy event in your city, send us a message, photo, or video @NarcityCanada on Twitter and Instagram.


 

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