Every now and then I come across a piece of information regarding tea that blows my mind - this is one of those times. It was just recently discovered that teabags contain a dangerous chemical. This is shocking on so many different levels, but mostly because companies have been using this chemical for years and no one has really noticed.
The paper used to make teabags contains Epichlorohydrin
If you have ever gotten a piece of paper wet, you know that it tends to fall apart easily. The solution that companies created was to treat the paper with something to make it stronger. The chemical of choice for this treatment was Epichlorohydrin. Epichlorohydrin is a dangerous little bugger. According to Dow Chemical (who is the largest producer of this substance):
Epichlorohydrin has been shown to cause cancer in laboratory animals. In the U.S.A. it is considered to be a potential carcinogen for purposes of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) hazard communication standard, 29 CFR 1910.1200.
If you look at the European Statement from Dow Chemical:
“The substance should be regarded as if it is carcinogenic to man. There is sufficient evidence to provide a strong presumption that human exposure to the substance may result in the development of cancer.”
Epichlorohydrin is not only used in teabags
Other uses for this chemical include epoxy resins, textiles, inks, dyes and rubber. These aren’t exactly the ideal things you would want to eat or drink.
This isn’t just limited to generic teabags
A lot of major tea companies use this chemical in their teabags. It probably has to do with the fact that a lot for these companies source their paper for teabags from the same vendors. While I can’t say specifically which teas companies use Epichlorohydrin, I can tell you for certain that very few companies (if any) have come out and stated they do not use it in an official statement.
This is another reason to drink loose tea
I’ll be honest with you - I’m in the tea business and I find this disturbing. Why won’t companies tackle this issue with official statements? Why all the secrecy? The one thing I can guarantee you is that no loose tea contains Epichlorohydrin because all you are buying is pure tea. So if not only for the flavor, aroma, antioxidants and beauty, avoiding cancer causing chemicals is another reason why to buy only loose tea.
Sources: http://msdssearch.dow.com/PublishedLiteratureDOWCOM/dh_0100/0901b80380100836.pdf?filepath=/296-01301.pdf http://www.google.com/patents/EP0632163A1?cl=en
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