The next time you decide to make a gourmet cup of tea you might want to think again.
According to a study from McGill University, a single plastic teabag brewing at 95 °C releases approximately 11.6 billion microplastics and 3.1 billion nanoplastics into a single cup of the hot beverage.
The study analyzed four different brands of tea and found that plastic teabags release billions of microplastics, such as nylon and polyethylene terephthalate, into each cup.
The microplastics, which are the size of grains of dust or pollen, are then unknowingly swallowed and found throughout the digestive system.
According to the study, each cup has about 16 micrograms of plastic – the highest level of microplastics found in any food or beverage item tested for microplastics to date.
The researchers decided not to disclose the brands and said more research needs to be done to understand the potential health risks or ingesting microplastics.
The Tea and Herbal Association of Canada said it takes the safety of consumers extremely seriously, adding the materials used in teabags have been assessed and passed by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency for safe use under various conditions.
The association also said the majority of tea bags sold in Canada are made from natural, plant fibres.