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Cancer-Causing Chemical Discovered in Bubble Tea

EMSL Analytical provides polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB) testing solutions to keep individuals safe from the dangerous health effects associated with PCB exposure.


According to the Huffington Post, the tapioca pearls in bubble tea may contain a cancer-causing chemical known as polychlorinated biphenyls or PCBs. The drink, referred to as tapioca tea, or boba tea, is a sugary beverage with a milk base that has become increasingly popular across Europe, particularly Germany, and throughout North America.

A study was conducted by German researchers at the University Hospital Aachen, where they discovered traces of the chemical in samples of the tapioca balls. The researchers also found styrene, acetophenone, and brominated substances, all of which are hazardous to consume.

The sample that was tested was from a chain restaurant in Northern Germany and was imported from Taiwan.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has designated PCBs as toxic. They belong to a broad family of man-made organic chemicals that were manufactured from 1929 until the U.S. put a ban on them in 1979. Despite the ban, PCBs are still present in the environment.

“PCBs have been shown to cause cancer and have health effects on the immune system, reproductive system, nervous system, and endocrine system,” states Michael Chapman, Chemistry Laboratory Manager. “EMSL Analytical provides quality testing services for PCBs in food and environmental samples in accordance with EPA standards.”

For more information regarding EMSL’s PCB testing services please call 800-220-3675, e-mail , or visit

About EMSL Analytical, Inc.
EMSL Analytical, Inc. is a full service testing company providing quality lab services under the same private ownership since 1981. Including the corporate lab facility in Cinnaminson, NJ, EMSL Analytical operates over thirty laboratories nationwide in the US and Canada. We provide analytical services for environmental, indoor air quality (IAQ), industrial hygiene, forensics and materials science, consumer products, food safety, PCR, pharmaceutical, asbestos, lead, and radiological samples. The company has an extensive list of accreditations from leading organizations, as well as state and federal regulating bodies. Please see our website for a complete listing of accreditations.


 bubble tea
 polychlorinated biphenyls

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