A new study published in Environmental Science & Technology has found that plastic teabags contaminate tea with microplastic particles.
Brewing a cup of tea with a plastic teabag was found to deposit 11.6 billion microplastic and 3.1 billion nanoplastic particles into the water.
These numbers are thousands of times higher than previously calculated averages. For example, the average American is believed to consume approximately 70,000 particles of microplastics each year from food and drink.
It’s currently unknown whether consumption of microplastics is harmful for human health.
In order to determine if the consumption of microplastics poses a threat to living creatures, the researchers performed an experiment on aquatic organisms known as Daphnia magna, or water fleas, which are commonly used in environmental studies
The researchers exposed the water fleas to various doses of the teabag plastic particles and found that they showed “anatomical and behavioral abnormalities” after exposure.
So far, microplastics have been discovered everywhere on earth from mountain ranges to ocean sediment. The particles are even shed from clothing and deposited into local water supplies during washing, where they are in turn consumed in drinking water.