Study finds tea bag contains nearly 13,000 microplastic particles

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ISTANBUL:

A researcher from Northwestern University in Sakarya discovered about 13,000 microplastic particles from a single tea bag passing through water.

In her research, Meral Yurtsever said microplastics were found in four out of 11 mug bags and in all 11 teapot bags from different brands.

Plastics, which can take centuries to dissolve in nature, could turn into particles from one micrometer to five millimeters, becoming microplastics.

A previous study from the Netherlands shared its results in March 2022, as it indicated that microplastics had been found in human blood for the first time. In the study, PET (polyethylene terephthalate) plastic widely used in beverage bottles, food packaging and clothing production, polystyrene used in food and household product packaging, and polyethylene used in bag plastic have been detected in blood samples.

As part of the project of the Scientific and Technological Research Institute of Turkey (TUBITAK), Yurtsever investigated whether microplastics are transferred to tea when steeped with tea bags.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Yurtsever said at least 13,000 microplastic particles leak into the tea from the tea bag.

“Here, with the technique that I used in my study, we can detect particles of microplastics up to three micrometers. In other words, we can say that about 13,000 microplastics between three micrometers and five millimeters pass in tea,” she added.

Saying that she also studied 11 tea bags and 11 teapot bags of different brands, known as cellulose, in the research, Yurtsever said that all the teapot bags were made of fabric with the addition of plastic while four of the tea bags were made of 100% cellulose. , and seven of them contained plastic.

“I found that all 11 teapot bags I looked at were plastic, and those plastics were polyester, polypropylene, and polyethylene,” she noted.

Emphasizing that none of the properties of plastics change even if they are broken into small pieces, Yurtsever pointed out that swallowed or touching microplastics cause toxic effects.

She further recommended using loose leaf tea rather than tea bags and added that “it would be better if the consumer would switch to products that actually contain little packaging. Loose leaf teas may be preferred “.

“The practicality of tea bags cannot be denied, but they really can have effects and burdens not only on people but also on the environment,” she said.

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