Tea for two — and billions of plastic particles.
Alarming new research reveals that some teabags are shedding billions of microplastic particles into the cup.
Canadian scientists discovered that certain plastic teabags release high levels of the substance into water, according to a paper published Wednesday in Environmental Science and Technology.
Microplastics — defined as small debris pieces less than 5 millimeters long — have been identified in both tap and bottled water, as well as in some foods, but the World Health Organization claims ingesting the particles is unlikely to pose a health risk. However, the agency said the findings are based on “limited information” and called for more extensive research.
The McGill University researchers are also asking for more probing into the health effects of microplastics.
While a majority of teabags are manufactured from paper — with a small amount of plastic used to seal them — some premium brands are using more plastic mesh to ensure that the teabags retain their triangular shape, which tea makers assert allows for better infusion of lea leaves.
Researchers discovered that just one plastic teabag can release a startling 11.6 billion microplastic particles.
“The consumer should avoid plastic packaging, not a specific brand, and definitely not the tea that comes inside,” explained researcher Laura Hernandez. “We encourage consumers to choose loose teas that is sold without packaging or other teas that come in paper teabags.”