Paper straws, commonly regarded as environmentally responsible choices, could pose health hazards. Recent European studies have unveiled that 90% of these straws contain persistent environmental pollutants, which could potentially result in health implications.
Boston, MA (ADH News) – With the surge in environmental awareness, an increasing number of individuals are choosing paper straws over disposable plastic ones to lessen plastic consumption. However, it’s worth noting that paper straws may not be as eco-friendly and may carry health risks. According to the latest European research, 90% of paper straws contain persistent environmental pollutants, and long-term use will cause human health problems.
More and more European countries have banned the sale of single-use plastic products, and plant-based plastic products have become popular environmentally friendly alternatives. Recently, a Belgian research team studied environmentally friendly straws made of different materials. They purchased 39 other brands of straws on the market, including paper, bamboo, glass, stainless steel, and plastic, and tested them to understand if the straws of these different materials contain synthetic chemicals such as polyfluoroalkyl substances and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).
The results showed that 70% of the straws contained PFAS, and 18 different PFAS were detected. Among them, paper straws had the highest proportion of PFAS, accounting for 18 of the 20 products, as high as 90%. This was followed by bamboo straws, with PFAS detected in 80%. Then there are plastic and glass straws, 75% and 40%, respectively, and only stainless steel straws are not seen to have PFAS.
What are PFAS? The full name of PFAS is “per- and polyfluorinated alkyl substances.” Because of its waterproof, heat-resistant, and anti-fouling properties is commonly found in outdoor clothing, car waxing, and Non-stick kitchen utensils. However, PFAS decomposes slowly and can exist in the environment for a long time. It is considered carcinogenic and may affect human health, including thyroid disease, elevated cholesterol, liver failure, kidney cancer, and testicular cancer.
Although traces of PFAS have been found on straws made of different materials, researchers cannot determine whether it is artificially added or contaminated during manufacturing because PFAS can exist in the outdoor environment for a long time. Potential sources of pollution include the soil where plants grow or the straws produced during production. Water used. However, because almost every brand of paper straw contains these chemicals, researchers believe that PFAS will likely be used as a waterproof coating on straws.
The human body is mainly exposed to PFAS through food and drinking water. If the straw contains PFAS, it may seep into the beverage and be consumed by consumers. Fortunately, most people do not use straws for long, so the impact on human health is limited. However, the researchers reminded us that although a small amount of PFAS is harmless in itself, it can remain in the body for many years and will increase the chemical burden of the body, so we must pay more attention.
Countries around the world promote environmentally friendly living. In addition to formulating policies, they also encourage people to reduce the use of plastic products in their lives. However, environmental friendliness and health should not be a choice between the two! Next time, try to give up using a straw and drink directly from the bottle. You may also get an unexpected sense of satisfaction!