Plastic tea bags release around 11 billion micro-plastics and three billion nano-sized plastics at once into the hot water, which adds to the generation of single-use plastic and also causes health hazards.
By Manasvi Gupta
Most of the brands use paper tea bags, silken tea bags or nylon tea bags, which are non- biodegradable. The brands claim that they contain certified food-grade plastic. But, the new study has shown that they too release plastic particles when in contact with hot water.
Researchers placed empty tea bags in hot water—heated to a temperature slightly less than its boiling point, and found that a single plastic tea bag released about billions of micro and nano plastic particles into it. Less than five millimeters in size, the particles are invisible to the naked eye. Although, extremely small, yet they can add up to prove extremely harmful.
Harshada Bansal, Founder of a tea company, said, “To promote public health, I researched more about it and came to know that plastic tea bags are actually unsafe for consumption.”
Nylon is a form of plastic. When it’s tea bags are put in hot water, they change properties. The tea might look beautiful in the nylon silken tea bags to people, but it’s actually toxic, reveals the study.
The extent of plastic particles released from the tea bags is much higher than plastics found in other food items, like honey, fish and bottled water, according to the same study.
Explaining their effect on health, Satyajeet Gupta, a Ph.D. researcher at Centre for Ecological Sciences, Indian Institute of Science (IISc), said, “Being a new area of research, few pieces of evidence have proved the particles’ interaction with the immune system. They basically induce toxins and various chemicals into the human and even in an animal body. The main danger arises when the plastic particles start accumulating in the body.”
Pramod, a resident of Marathahalli, was shocked by knowing the fact that he consumes millions of different plastic particles at once. He said, “Since I live alone, I have hoarded tea bags to save time and use them on a daily basis. After knowing that they are so harmful, I am going to throw them and have loose tea from now on.”
While some people believed that it doesn’t make much difference to their lives.
Tanvi, a resident of Bellandur, said, “We constantly consume plastics in one form or the other. On a personal level, I’m already against the use of tea bags so I don’t use them much, but on a larger scale it is definitely harmful.”
“It is the duty of manufacturers to maintain the health of the consumers, so they must come up with better alternatives,” she added.
Based on the limited evidence available, chemicals associated with microplastics in drinking-water pose concern for human health, say World Health Organisation reports.
Looking for an alternative, Miss. Bansal said, “We have come up with muslin cloth tea bags, which are entirely made up of cotton. We have verified that when the cotton cloth is put in the hot water, it doesn’t release anything harmful. Also, the prices are almost similar.”