'Eco-friendly' paper straws actually contain toxic 'chemicals'

This chemical compound was found in 90% of paper straws. Researchers also say that the high concentration of PFAS in the straws show that they were used as a waterproof coating.

'Eco-friendly' paper straws actually contain toxic 'chemicals’
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It wasn't that long ago that plastic straws were replaced by paper ones in major fast-food chains and restaurants. But now paper straws are the ones to be considered 'toxic' according to scientists.

On August 24, 2023, a significant study published under the category of Food Additives & Contaminants, examined 39 brands of straws made from various materials such as paper, bamboo, glass, stainless steel and plastic. Each straw underwent two rounds of PFAS testing.

The term "per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances" (PFAS) refers to a large and complex group of synthetic chemicals that have been used in everyday items. 

In this particular study, the straws showed PFAS in 69% of the cases. 18 different PFAS were found during testing.

These compounds were discovered in 90% of paper straws, 80% of bamboo straws, 75% of plastic straws, and 40% of glass straw brands tested positive as well.

No traces of PFAS were found in stainless steel straws.

According to the study:

Most PFAS barely break down and are both accumulative and potentially toxic to humans, animals, and the environment (EEA Citation2022).

Intake through food and drinking water are the main routes of general human exposure to PFAS. In addition, many food packaging materials (Food Contact Materials, FCMs) and reusable plastic bags used in the food industry can contain PFAS (Sznajder-Katarzyńska et al. Citation2019; EEA Citation2022).

Researchers say that the high concentration of PFAS in the straws show that they were used as a waterproof coating.

Science Daily said:

The PFAS concentrations were low and, bearing in mind that most people tend to only use straws occasionally, pose a limited risk to human health. However, PFAS can remain in the body for many years and concentrations can build up over time.

This raises the question if plastic straws will make a comeback in certain food places in the future, because paper straws aren't as 'eco-friendly' as we thought.

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