Storm in a teacup?

Much has been discussed and documented during recent years about microbeads, microfibres and microplastics – be they in cosmetics, fashion or indeed drinking water. Well, now a recent study has reported that plastic tea bags are shedding billions of shards of microplastics into their water. The study has been carried out by McGill University in Canada.

The research group examined four different tea bag brands by placing each bag into boiling water. On average a single bag would shed 11.6 billion microplastic particle. In addition, they would release 3.1 billion nano-plastic particles.

To put these results into context, the number of microplastics released is thousands of times higher than any other previous food type tested. The team removed the tea from inside the bags to prevent it from interfering with the results, before boiling the bags in water to simulate the tea-making process.

Humans eat an average of 5 grams of plastic each week, according to a separate study earlier this year – the equivalent of a credit card’s weight in plastic.

In its first review of the health risks of plastic in tap and bottled water, the World Health Organization (WHO) said last month that microplastics “don’t appear to pose a health risk at current levels,” but the key finding came with a big caveat – the review said available information was limited and more research was needed on microplastics and how they affect human health.

Perhaps will see a shift back to loose tea in the tea pot, rather than tea bags? To find out more about the work that GreenEarth Cleaning is doing to keep plastic out of our oceans and also our food chain, please take a look at our recent article about current innovation.