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Are paper straws safe? Study reveals presence of toxic chemicals

Are paper straws safe? Study reveals presence of toxic chemicals
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A recent study has revealed that paper straws might include toxic chemicals that could be unsafe for both humans and the environment.

Paper straws contain toxic ‘forever chemicals’, not more eco-friendly than plastic ones, according to study

According to recent research published in the journal Food Additives & Contaminants, paper straws are not eco-friendly. Belgian scientists have discovered that these so-called “green” straws are not a more eco-friendly option than plastic ones, which were prohibited in the UK in 2020.

“Straws made from plant-based materials, such as paper and bamboo, are often advertised as being more sustainable and eco-friendly than those made from plastic,” Thimo Groffen, Ph.D., study author and an environmental scientist at the University of Antwerp, said in a statement.

“However, the presence of PFAS [poly- and perfluoroalkyl-based substances known as “forever chemicals” because they last for a long time before breaking down] in these straws means that’s not necessarily true.”

A groundbreaking study conducted in Europe looked into different types of straws used in stores and fast-food places. The results showed that out of 20 brands of paper straws, 18 of them contained a substance called PFAS. Plastic and glass straws had this substance in fewer instances.

The study didn’t check if PFAS came out of the straws and went into the drinks. The most common PFAS, called perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), was banned worldwide from 2020. None of the metal straws tested had any PFAS in them.

Back in 2018, NYC Mayor de Blasio commented on a proposal from the City Council. This proposal suggested stopping restaurants and bars from giving out plastic straws.“Their time has come and gone. I believe we should get rid of plastic straws,” the mayor said.

Potential health impact of PFAS and reevaluating eco-friendly options

Also, countries like Belgium and the UK have already moved away from using these items, according to NY Post. Instead, they’ve opted for plant-based alternatives that are believed to be more environmentally friendly.

The small amounts of PFAS you might get from using straws are unlikely to be very harmful to your health, The Post reported. However, studies with animals show that if these chemicals build up in the body over time, they could lead to health issues like liver problems, a weaker immune system, and even infant death.

Considering these findings, Groffen concluded that plant-based straws might not be as environmentally friendly as they seem. And there might be only one truly good alternative to plastic.

“We did not detect any PFAS in stainless-steel straws, so I would advise consumers to use this type of straw — or just avoid using straws at all,” the environmental scientist suggested.

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