This is a FACT…
at least for the safeguarding alternative health enthusiast. If you’re a tea drinker, you’ve probably seen those nifty pyramid-shaped silk mesh tea bags that allow the loose tea leaves inside to unfurl when steeped in boiling water. But did you know that these toxic tea bags are made of plastic and can potentially leak out toxic chemicals when exposed to heat? And paper bags carry a risk of their own because many are coated with a carcinogenic compound! Here’s what you need to know about each.
Plastic Tea Bags
Plastic toxic tea bags are made of different types of plastic—viscose rayon, PVC, thermoplastic, polypropylene—but the most prominent are food grade nylon or polyethylene terephthalate (PET). Nylon and PET are considered two of the safest plastics because they have extremely high melting points; this means it’s less likely that plastic chemicals will leach out of the bag and into your tea.
However, there is more cause for concern regarding the “glass transition” temperature (Tg) of these bags. The Tg refers to the temperature at which the molecule of certain materials, such as polymers, starts to decompose…and the Tg is always lower than the melting point, which means that it’s probably not holding up in boiling water.
Dr. Ray Fernando, professor and director of polymers and coatings at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, states in The Atlantic: “If the question is, ‘As the polymer goes through that transition state, is it easier for something to leach out?’ ‘the answer is yes.’”
What do the conservative watchdogs say about the safety of tea bags? As of right now, nothing! Neither the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or the Center for Health, Environment, and Justice have any information to share about the potential toxicity of tea bags. To be on the safe side, avoid those fancy silk or mesh toxic tea bags.
Paper Tea Bags
Paper tea bags pose an altogether different threat. Many paper bags are treated with a compound called epichlorohydrin, which is used to produce epoxy resins and acts as a pesticide! The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) labels it a potential carcinogen, and it’s been shown to cause cancer in animals, impair fertility, and weaken immune function. And tea bags aren’t the only culprit! Coffee filters, sausage casings, and water filters are also treated with epichlorohydrin.
To make sure you aren’t exposed, call the manufacturer of your favorite tea to make sure they don’t coat their tea bags with epichlorohydrin. To be even safer, trade in your bagged tea for loose tea.