By Lucy Buglass
Tea is a household staple, especially in the UK.
Apparently we Brits drink around 165 million cups a day, . which isn't surprising given that it's a go-to for people in the mornings, afternoons, and evenings.
But a recent study has shown that teabags may be slightly more concerning for our health than we thought.
Many of us are trying to be environmentally friendly, especially when it comes to reducing our single use plastic. But according to a new study, it's been estimated that 96% of teabags contain polypropylene - and type of plastic - which is used to seal them and make sure they keep their shape.
Researchers from McGill University reported in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, to find out whether plastic teabags could be releasing micro and nanoplastics whilst the tea was brewing.
To find out the answer to this question, the researchers used four different tea brands that were packaged in plastic teabags. Then, they removed all the tea leaves and washed the empty bags.
What they found is alarming, as via electron microscopy, they discovered that a single teabag at brewing temperature released approximately 11.6 billion and 3.1 billion nanoplastic particles into the water.
Researchers claimed that these levels are thousands of times greater than levels which have been previously reported in other foods.
However, it’s not yet known if these particles are harmful to humans. So, whilst concerning, there's no need to panic yet, as researchers concluded that further studies would need to be conducted to determine whether or not the plastics has any effect at all on humans.
It’s not all bad news though, as some tea brands such as Abel & Cole, and Clipper, have completely removed polypropylene from their products, and hopefully others will be able to find similar solutions too.
Tea company Clipper, for example, announced last year that they had developed a plastic-free teabag which was made from bananas. As of October 2018, they confirmed they would be using plant based materials instead of polypropylene.
Their plastic-free teabags are made fromabaca, which is made from a banana plant, and a biopolymer made from plant material known as PLA.
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