The Toronto Star
reports researchers at the German Institute of Hygiene and Environmental Medicine tested samples of the pearls and detected toxic PCBs.
Researcher Manfred Möller tells the Rheinische Post
, "(What we found) includes in particular; styrene, acetophenone, and brominated substances that shouldn't be in food at all."
The 'bubbles' were bought from a German chain store that says they were purchased from Taiwan. German officials are now looking into whether bubble tea violates food safety laws.
PCBs, or polychlorinated biphenyls, were once used in things like ink and paint until they were banned in the late 1970s across North America because the chemicals don't break down easily and can accumulate in the body.
says while people are still exposed to PCBs that are found in many foods, high levels increase the risk of cancer, particularly liver or kidney cancer. The Huffington Post
says the Environmental Protection Agency in the US warns, PCBs can also harm the immune system, reproductive system, nervous system and endocrine system.
Just last month, Germany’s Federal Institute for Risk Assessment warned that the tapioca bubbles could become lodged in a child's trachea if sucked up through a straw. CTV News
quotes Dr. Andreas Hensel saying, "Especially with children aged up to four years, there is a risk of foreign objects accidentally entering the lungs." It advised retailers to warn customers about the choking hazard.