June 13, 2024

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Paper Straws Not So Eco-Friendly: 90% Contain Toxic Chemicals PFAS

Paper Straws Not So Eco-Friendly: 90% Contain Toxic Chemicals PFAS



 

Paper Straws Not So Eco-Friendly: 90% Contain Toxic Chemicals PFAS.

A recent European study has found that 90% of so-called eco-friendly paper straws contain “forever chemicals” known as PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances), which do not readily break down and can accumulate in the human body, posing health risks. This discovery aligns with a recent study in the United States.

 

“Forever chemicals” is a colloquial term for a group of over 12,000 chemicals more formally known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), which persist in the environment and the human body, thus earning the “forever” moniker.

 

Paper Straws Not So Eco-Friendly: 90% Contain Toxic Chemicals PFAS

 

 

Human exposure to PFAS primarily occurs through food and drinking water. Additionally, many food packaging materials and plastic bags may also contain PFAS, which can migrate into the food we consume.

In 2021, a study in the United States found perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) in plant-based straws. Researchers at the University of Antwerp in Belgium conducted their analysis on straws made from various materials to investigate if a similar situation existed in Europe.

 

The researchers tested 39 different brands of straws, including paper, glass, bamboo, stainless steel, and plastic, and analyzed 29 different PFAS compounds.

 

Most brands tested (69%) contained perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), with 18 different PFOS variants detected.

Paper straws were the most likely to contain PFOS, with this chemical found in 90% of the tested brands, albeit at varying concentrations. Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), which has been associated with high cholesterol, immune system suppression, thyroid issues, kidney cancer, and testicular cancer, was the most commonly detected variant. PFOA was globally banned in 2020.

Trifluoroacetic acid (TFA) and trifluoromethanesulfonic acid (TFMS), short-chain PFAS, were also detected, and they are highly water-soluble, potentially leaching into beverages from straws.

 

Bamboo straws fared slightly better than paper, with PFAS found in 80% of the tested brands. PFAS were found in 75% of plastic straws and 40% of glass straws. No PFAS were detected in the stainless steel straws tested.

 

Thimo Groffen, the lead author of the study, stated, “Straws made from plant materials like paper and bamboo are often marketed as more sustainable and eco-friendly than plastic straws. However, the presence of perfluorooctanesulfonic acid in these straws suggests that this may not necessarily be the case.”

 

The researchers noted that the concentrations of PFAS were low, posing minimal health risks. However, the concern with PFAS lies in their bioaccumulative nature, meaning they accumulate over time as they are absorbed but not excreted from the body.

 

Groffen explained, “While small amounts of perfluorooctanesulfonic acid may not be harmful on their own, they contribute to the overall chemical burden in the body.”

 

The study did not determine whether PFOS was intentionally added to the straws or a result of contamination, such as from soil in plant-based materials.

However, the presence of this chemical in nearly every brand of paper straws suggests it may be used as a waterproof coating in some cases.

The study also did not investigate if PFAS leached from the straws into the liquids they contained.

 

As a precaution, the researchers recommend people start using stainless steel straws or completely forgo the use of straws.

Groffen concluded, “The presence of PFAS in paper and bamboo straws suggests that they may not be biodegradable. We did not detect any PFAS in stainless steel straws, so I would advise consumers to use this type of straw or simply avoid using straws altogether.”

This study was published in the journal “Food Additives & Contaminants.”

 

 

 

 

Paper Straws Not So Eco-Friendly: 90% Contain Toxic Chemicals PFAS

(source:internet, reference only)


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