Drinking coffee from disposable cups could be 'seriously' bad for you
Put down that latte.
Drinking coffee from a paper cup could be ‘seriously’ bad for your health, new research warns.
This is because you might be consuming thousands of microplastic particles as you sip your hot drink, due to the plastic lining in cups that makes them waterproof.
And those particles could cause disease.
Study lead author Dr Sudha Goel explained: ‘In the 15 minutes it takes for coffee or tea to be consumed, the microplastic layer on the cup degrades. It releases 25,000 micron-sized particles into the hot beverage.
‘An average person drinking three regular cups of tea or coffee daily, in a paper cup, would end up ingesting 75,000 tiny microplastic particles which are invisible to the naked eye.’
Researchers poured ultra-pure water at 85 to 90 degrees celsius into paper cups and left it to sit for 15 minutes.
The liquid was then analysed under a fluorescent microscope, which revealed ‘startling’ results.
The plastic linings of the cups were separately examined for changes in physical, chemical, and mechanical properties.
Along with discovering microplastics in the water after being in the cup and the degradation of the plastic lining, the analysis discovered the presence of heavy metals in the lining, too.
Dr Sudha explained: ‘A disposable paper cup exposed to hot liquid for 15 minutes will have approximately 10.2 billion submicron sized particles.’
This is all quite concerning, as recent research has suggested a possible link between consuming microplastics and cancer and infertility.
Institute director Professor Virendra Tewari said: ‘This study shows careful consideration needs to be done before the promotion of replacements for bio-hazardous products and environmental pollutants.
‘We have been quick to replace plastics cups and glasses with disposable paper cups.’
The research adds to growing concern over the use of single-use cups for hot drinks, which are also not good for the environment.
Experts recommend swapping to a reuseable cup, but acknowledge that it’s difficult to find a style of cup that offers the same convenience as paper ones.
A spokesman for Chennai-based environmental charity Ecolife said: ‘There is definitely a push factor from the companies that install and maintain coffee or tea vending machines that are ubiquitous in offices.
‘Apart from ingesting microplastics, as outlined in the study, paper cups leave behind thin plastics that contaminate the environment.
‘Disposable paper cups do not decompose in a landfill and cannot be recycled. There is a continuous and growing demand for them that can only be met by further deforestation.’
Ecolife is researching non-plastic, plant-based films that can coat paper cups such as and are biodegradable. But they are twice as costly.
In the meantime, it might be worth sticking to a mug.
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