Varun, an IT professional working in Technopark, was finding himself with an upset stomach every night. While normal medical checks revealed nothing wrong in him, deeper probes revealed the reason – his stomach was collecting significant amounts of wax. And doctors identified the villian – the ordinary disposable paper cups he used for drinking his tea at his office pantry.
Disposable paper cups have become quite popular in office pantries due to the convenience it offers. What many overlook is the fact that these paper cups are coated with a tiny layer of wax, which is essential to prevent water from seeping into the paper. When very hot liquids are pour over this cup, the paper cups wax may disintegrate and a little may come off, which will promptly be sent along with the drink into our stomachs! While our body can discard minor amounts, over the long-term, it does become a problem.
So what can be done about it? You can try to bring your own glass cups. Glass is one of the least reactive materials in the world (remember acids are stored in glass vessels, blood samples are collected in glass plates – these are for a good reason). But glass does have the problem of breaking easily, so it requires good care. Ceramic cups are probably the best bet. Of course, you can also use your ordinary stainless steel glass, but never use plastic ones – they are harmful, and its dangers are even worse than wax!
It is a fact that for insulation and durability, paper cup manufacturers spray both the inside and outside of the cup with very thin layer of wax material like polyethylene and paraffin. But they have definite standards to follow while manufacturing these disposable paper cups. This ensures that paper cups do not become toxic when soaked in water or hot liquids. Read the reference section for standard guidelines in preparation of paper cups. However, some unscrupulous traders and small workshop manufacturers do not follow these guidelines. In order to reduce the cost of paper cups production, they can use industrial wax and harmful waste plastic, which again may not meet the standards of manufacturing. And so, use of these paper cups can definitely effect your health in long run.
The wax material in low quality disposable paper cups can indeed melt and get into your digestive tract. In long run, this can lead to gastrointestinal disorders and few other health issues. Read the health hazards of such paper cups in the reference section. Note that styrofoam cups can as well be dangerous to health.
Also, these paper, styrofoam and plastic cups have harmful effects on environment. All these cups are use and throw disposable products that may not decompose in a landfill, or may release dangerous gases like methane if decomposed anaerobically. The polyethylene that is used in preparing these cups is generally made from petroleum or natural gas. It is not biodegradable without special treatment, and therefore accumulates. Moreover, this plastic resin prevents recycling of paper cups, which in turn demands more paper, harming the environment again, in the form of tress cut.
To conclude, the best and the safest way to deal with this paper cups wax problem is to avoid these harmful paper, plastic, styrofoam cups and use stainless steel, glass or ceramic mugs instead.
Hoax or Fact: