Cardboard cups have become increasingly popular in our lives, especially during the pandemic, due to their hygienic properties. Although disposable paper cups are practical and hygienic, they can have significant negative effects on our health. So, are cardboard cups healthy?
With the pandemic, cardboard cups became widely used, and experts have conducted research on them. While they seem hygienic in terms of usage, it is worth noting that both the inner and outer surfaces of cardboard cups are coated with a plastic film, which poses a risk factor for human health.
At the same time, a study conducted by the Indian Institute of Technology on the dangers of cardboard cups revealed shocking results. When experts poured pure water at 85-90 degrees Celsius into paper cups and waited for 15 minutes, they analyzed the water under a fluorescence microscope.
The results from the cardboard cups were surprising. Approximately 10.2 billion sub-micron particles were released upon contact with hot liquid.
Ingesting 75,000 Microplastics from 3 Cardboard Cups!
Sudha Goel, the lead investigator of the team researching the harmful effects of cardboard cups, stated, “A person who drinks an average of three cups of tea or coffee a day from a paper cup will ingest 75,000 microplastic particles, which are invisible to the naked eye.”
Cardiovascular Health Issues!
When in contact with heat, it can cause various health problems. Heavy metals from the cardboard cup can cause anemia, hormonal imbalances, reproductive disorders, and cardiovascular diseases.
Beverages Should Be Left for at Least 15 Minutes
When beverages above a certain temperature are placed in these cups, heavy metals like lead, nickel, chromium, copper, zinc, and cadmium can mix with the drink. We then ingest these substances through our digestive system. The temperature of the liquid and the duration it stays inside the cup are essential factors. Research shows that the beverage should be left in the cup for at least 15 minutes. The heavy metals found in cardboard cups can have carcinogenic or cancer-causing effects.
Heavy metals found in cardboard cups can have carcinogenic or cancer-causing effects. Plastics can cause estrogen-like effects in the body, leading to hormonal imbalances. This can affect cardiovascular health, liver health, joints, and reproductive organs.
Experts also mention that chronic fatigue, anemia, dizziness, and constipation can be side effects of using cardboard cups.
Plastic Cup or Cardboard Cup?
If the beverage we consume is water, lemonade, or another cold, non-acidic drink, there is no harm in using a plastic cup. However, we should avoid adding cola to these beverages, as the acid in cola can react with the chemicals in plastic cups. If the beverage is hot, like tea or coffee, using a plastic cup can be dangerous. Plastic cups contain benzene, an industrial solvent known to cause cancer in humans. Benzene can affect male testosterone levels, leading to infertility and weakness. Moreover, research has shown that excessive use of plastic products can increase liver enzymes and cause abdominal fat accumulation. It has also been determined that substances inside plastic cups can be harmful when consuming hot beverages or ice cream.
Aside from the carcinogenic effects of plastic cups, their impact on the environment after use is significant. Plastic, an inorganic material, takes 400 years to decompose in nature. When discarded into the environment, all of humanity suffers the consequences. In this case, plastic cups used for cold beverages should be taken to recycling points to minimize their environmental impact. Cardboard cups are made from paper pulp, which is made from the cellulose found in the structure of trees. Cellulose can also be produced from straw, flax, and cotton fibers, making it an organic material with no harm to the environment or humans. Moreover, cellulose is a valuable material, and paper recycling has developed in many countries, including our own.
When it comes to cost, plastic cups are generally cheaper than cardboard cups. This is primarily due to the valuable nature of cellulose. With this information in mind, let’s consider the choice between cardboard cups and plastic cups: If we are environmentally conscious individuals who do not want to compromise our health and are mindful of costs, there is no harm in using plastic cups for cold, non-acidic beverages, provided that we responsibly dispose of them at recycling centers afterward. In all other cases, we should definitely opt for cardboard cups, as they are a safer option for both our health and our future.