Health and Disease, Uncategorized

Plastic Tea Bags : Plastic in Your Body

 

Billions of ‘Microplastics’ in Your Tea From Each Plastic Teabag

News Picture: Billions of 'Microplastics' in Your Tea From Each Plastic Teabag: Study

A new study warns that even your soothing cup of tea might serve up some invisible health hazards.

Some tea companies are replacing traditional paper teabags with plastic ones, but the new bags may be adding billions of tiny bits of plastic to your beverage, a team from Canada reports.

“We show that steeping a single plastic teabag at brewing temperature [205 degrees Fahrenheit] releases approximately 11.6 billion microplastics and 3.1 billion nanoplastics into a single cup of the beverage,” concluded a team led by Nathalie Tufenkji. She’s a professor of chemical engineering at McGill University in Montreal.

The global proliferation of microplastics — bits of plastic so small they are often invisible to the naked eye — have made headlines recently, having been found in large numbers in ocean and tap water, seafood and even human poop.

“In the past few years, there has been a steadily increasing body of scientific literature demonstrating that not only are microplastics permeating the broader environment, they are entering our bodies, as well,” noted Dr. Kenneth Spaeth, chief of occupational and environmental medicine at Northwell Health in Great Neck, N.Y. He wasn’t involved in the new research.

Spaeth stressed that there’s just too little data on whether or not microplastics pose a threat to human health. However, “based on the molecular composition of microplastics, there is reason to have real concern about the potential health effects,” he said, “since they contain a variety of components known to harm human health — including hormone-disrupting chemicals, as well as human carcinogens.”

In the new study, the Montreal team noted that the heat of brewed tea can cause plastic tea bags to break down into bits of plastic that are thousands of times smaller than the diameter of a human hair. That means you can’t see, taste or feel them in your mouth.

Investigating further, the researchers removed the tea from plastic teabags sourced from four different manufacturers. They then washed out the empty bags and placed them in hot water.

Using a powerful electron microscope, Tufenkji’s team found that a single bag released close to 12 billion microplastic particles, and more than 3 billion of the [even smaller] nanoplastic particles, into the water.

These levels were thousands of times greater than seen in other foods, they noted.

In a separate experiment, the researchers fed varying doses of these particles to very tiny animals — water fleas. Although the fleas lived, they did exhibit some physical and behavioral abnormalities after being fed the microplastics, the researchers report Sept. 25 in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.

Still, more research must be done to see if microplastics have health effects on humans, the McGill researchers said.

Spaeth said the new study “raises the specter that human exposure to microplastics is not just a result of the widespread contamination of the broader environment, but that our use of plastics in consumer products is notably adding to our microplastics exposure.”     Steven Reinberg

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Health and Disease, Lifestyle

Kitchen Gadgets You Should Get Rid of

cuttingboards

Kitchen Gadgets You Should Get Rid of

Cooking at home is one of the best ways to lose weight, since you control what goes into your food. But sometimes, what’s in your kitchen is as important as what’s in your mouth. Using old or outdated tools can have a big impact on your health, from spreading germs to putting you at risk for cancer. Here are seven items that you need to replace in your kitchen right now.

Nonstick Pan

Nonstick pans are great for cooking eggs, but be careful how you use them –- heating nonstick pans higher than 500 degrees Fahrenheit can release toxic fumes that, while not deadly, can make you sick. And while 500 degrees is hotter than you will typically heat cookware, scratched and damaged pans will release these colorless, odorless fumes at a lower temperature. So if your nonstick pan is scratched, toss it and get a new one. “Newer pans produce much lower levels of these fumes,” says Albert Levy, an assistant clinical professor of medicine at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City. “If you have a nonstick pan produced before 2010, replace it.”

Grill Brush

Summertime is grilling season, but before you clean off the grill, you should think about tossing out your brush and getting a new one. Bristles can fall off old and heavily used brushes, end up in your food and cause severe damage. “When swallowed, these bristles can puncture your throat, stomach or intestines,” says Deborah Orlick Levy, a registered dietitian and consultant for the health food company Carrington Farms. “You should replace these brushes every two to three months, but check it frequently. If the bristles are coming loose, get rid of it and buy a new one.”

Plastic Food Containers

Older food storage containers often contain bisphenol A, better known as BPA, a compound used in plastic manufacturing that has been linked to a host of health problems, including cancer, heart disease, obesity and more -– so if you haven’t bought new containers in a while, now’s the time. “BPA can seep into your food and drink and cause all kinds of nasty health effects,” Orlick Levy says. “Thankfully, more and more companies are phasing it out of their products, so it’s easy to find BPA-free containers.”

Cutting Board

Cutting boards, whether they’re wood or plastic, need to be replaced regularly. While soap and water will clean any bacteria on the surface, your knives leave gouges and cuts that can harbor bacteria and make it difficult to disinfect. “Cutting boards are cheap and replaceable,” Levy says. “As soon as you see deep cuts or scratches in your board, get rid of it. They’re not worth getting sick over.”

Sponge

Sponges are porous and damp, making them cozy bacteria traps. While rinsing your sponge with hot water and zapping it in the microwave for 30 seconds can help sanitize it, you should replace it regularly so you’re not spreading germs every time you clean your dishes. “Sponges are notoriously contaminated,” Levy says. “They can be among the dirtiest things in your kitchen. Once you’ve had it longer than two weeks, get rid of it.”

Dish Towel

Much like your kitchen sponges, dish towels can become a home to millions upon millions of bacteria -– and if you use the same towel to wipe your counters and your hands, you could be setting yourself up to get sick. Launder them frequently, but be sure to replace them often as well.

Fire Extinguisher

While it may not directly affect your health, it’s important to make sure your fire extinguisher is still working. Check out its gauge to see if the needle is still in the green. If it is? You’re set. If not, get a new one. You don’t want to wait until it’s too late.

Health and Wellness Associates

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