Why we Should not Drink Tea or Coffee in Plastic Cup?

tea coffee in plastic cups

Plastic, plastic everywhere, no plastic is but safe !!!

Gone were the days when plastic was considered as the safest option due to its durability. As, now it is seen as a threat or a slow poison. Earlier it was considered better for storage over glasses but now is seen as a waste in the house. We can say that a material which has become omnipresent next to God is the Plastics!

A substantial portion of daily use, plastic is in the form of disposable cups and utensils. Have you ever thought the diseases like cancers, thyroid abnormalities, infertility issues which used to be rare only till few decades ago have become as common as common cough and cold now-a-days. In busy and easy to go life policy, everything has turned up to be ready-made: ready-to-cook, ready-to-eat and ready-to-serve.

Is having Coffee or Tea in Thermocol/Plastic Cups Harmful?

Use of disposable food storage items has increased tremendously these days. Do you also take coffee or tea in plastic cups or use straws to drink liquids? Or, do you use food which is packed in polythene? If yes, shun this habit of yours, as disposable plastic cups, straws and food containers contain many toxic chemicals such as styrene, BPA, formaldehyde.

What Actually Happens when you Drink Hot Beverages in Plastic Cups?

Migration is the phenomenon that takes place when chemical substances in the plastic migrate to the surface of the plastic item or to a medium in contact with the item.

Why does Migration Happen when we take Hot Drinks in Plastic Cups?

In most of the cases, migration is not desirable. The plastic material is not pure plastic polymer, a large number of other compounds called Additives are added to the parent polymer to improve its physical properties and performance. Additives are not chemically bonded to the basic plastic polymer. So, they are liable to migrate when subjected to thermal or chemical changes.

Is Migration due to Hot Drinks in Plastic Cups Harmful?

So, when you drink hot tea or coffee, heat from the drink is transferred to the plastic cup, accelerating leaching out of additives from the plastic into the hot drinks or food. Some of these additives can be harmful and are responsible for many types of cancer, hormonal disruption in the human body.

Why Harmful Additives are added in Plastic Cups?

The answer is very simple – Money! Unfortunately, most of the times additives are not added to improve the properties of the plastic, but to reduce its cost.

Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is the least expensive of all other types of plastics. To reduce the cost of plastic material, PVC is preferred. However, to make it suitable for use, more than 50% of its weight, additives are added. More the additive more would be a migration of harmful substances.

5 Most Harmful Additives of Plastics?

According to studies the chemicals found in disposable packaging and food containers cause interference in sperm production, genital malformation and hormonal disturbances.Chemicals, formaldehyde and styrene, are commonly found disposable cups are known or suspected carcinogens (National Toxicology Service, U.S. Department of Health Human Services, 2014).

Approximately 170 dangerous chemicals have been used in disposable food packaging and disposable containers. Some of the main culprits are explained below.

1. Styrene

Styrene is a common component of polystyrene plastic which is most commonly found in disposable cups and bowls, Styrofoam food trays, egg containers, opaque cutlery and carryout containers.

Polystyrene cup, approximately 0.025 % styrene can be transferred to the human body with a hot or cold beverage. Now, if you drink water, tea or coffee in a Polystyrene cup four times a day for three years, this would be equivalent to consuming one Styrofoam cup-worth of styrene with your beverage.

5 Factors that affect Leaching of Styrene from disposable food items:

1. Fat contents in the food

Being fat soluble, leaching of Styrene is more with higher fat content in the food.

2. Heat

Migration of styrene increases with an increase in the temperature of food or beverages.

3. Acidity

More the acidic food or beverage, more the leaching of styrene.

4. Presence of ethanol

Alcoholic beverages increase the migration rate of styrene into food or beverage as styrene is soluble in ethanol.

5. Presence of Vitamin A

If the food containing vitamin A comes in contact with heat (such as microwave heat), Vitamin A degrades and form Toluene. Toulene dissolves the styrene and increases its concentration in beverages.

As per the Foundation for Achievements in Science, long-term exposure to a small quantity of styrene can cause:

  • Low platelets count or hemoglobin values
  • Chromosomal and lymphatic abnormalities
  • The neurotoxic effect due to the accumulation of styrene in the brain tissues, spinal cord and peripheral nerves causes fatigue, behavioral changes like nervousness, anxiety and other chronic disorder related to the nervous system.
  • Chronic exposure to high level of styrene can damage the liver and nerve tissues.
  • Extra caution should be taken in case of pregnant women as it affects adversely on developing the body.
  • As alcohol can pass through the placental barrier, this could be the
    the vehicle for the transmission of styrene monomer into a fetus.
  • Styrene can be transmitted through breast milk to the newborn.
  • Styrene raises the risk of cancer of the pancreas and of oesophagus among styrene workers. (International Agency for Research on Cancer) .

2. Bisphenol A (BPA)

Polycarbonate leaches bisphenol A and it is used in food packaging and canned food.

  • It is advised to the pregnant women to avoid BPA exposure by not using canned and packaged food.
  • BPA exposure may disrupt normal breast development and also cause breast cancer in later life.
  • BPA is also linked to having and an adverse effect on the brain development of girl child if the mother is exposed to BPA during pregnancy.
  • BPA is endocrine disrupting chemical and may acts like estrogen or anti-estrogen so it may alter the effect of sex hormone in girls.
  • The high BPA content causes prostate cancer and reduces sperm production. Thus, it causes infertility in males as well.
  • High BPA content in plastic cups reduces immunity power of our body.
  • A person having high BPA content is aggressive and hyperactive.

3. Formaldehyde

The formaldehyde is used as a preservative which is found in many disposable coffee cups.

According to the report of National Institute of Health that formaldehyde has been linked to both leukaemia and a rare type of nasal cancer (National Toxicology Service, U.S. Department of Health Human Services, 2014).

4. Phthalates

Component of PVC,  Phthalates are a group of chemicals which is responsible for endocrine –disrupting.
Phthalates act as weak estrogens and have been linked to early puberty in girls, a risk factor for breast cancer in later life. Phthalate plasticizers react to vegetable oil.

Know Everything about Breast Cancer and Cure

5. Vinyl Chloride and Dioxin

Bothteachere from PVteachertics. While Vinyl Chloride was one of the first chemicals which have been declared known human carcinogen, Dioxin has been found to be carcinogenic by National Toxicology Program (NTP) and International Agency fResearchchh on CaResearchRC).

Vinyl chloride has been linked to increased mortality from breast cancer among workers involved in the manufacturing of PVC. Dioxin acts as an endocrine disruptor.

Plastic Use – Know Type of Your Plastics


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