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The threat of microplastics in coffee cups

How many pieces of microplastic do you think you’re exposed to every time you use a disposable one-use coffee cup? If you’ve ever asked yourself that question, then now, we have an official answer to your inquiry. New research from the Sichuan University in China has determined that a single cup of takeaway coffee per week has the potential to expose you to over 90,000 microplastic particles annually.

The study was published in the Journal of Hazardous Material and detailed microplastics that were smaller than 50 microns in size. Researchers took three different types of plastic cup made from polypropylene (PP), polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and polyethylene (PE) and poured 400 millilitres of water into each. Each cup was then sealed with foil to prevent any airborne contamination of the experiment. After being swirled the cup was left for five minutes to allow any microplastics to enter the water.

The researchers discovered that the Polypropylene cups were the worst type with the most microplastics released with around 723-1489 plastic particles per cup. The scientists also discovered that hot water in plastic cups helped release even more microplastics.

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