Thg 09 20, 23
0 min read
PFAS - “Forever Chemicals” Found In 90% Of Paper Straws!!!
By Emily H.
While paper straws are often marketed as "the best" plastic alternatives, their functionality and eco-friendliness are constantly questioned, especially since they can barely do either.
A recent study published in Food Additives and Contaminants found shocking evidence of "forever chemicals," also known as PFAS, in a whopping 90% of paper and bamboo straws tested. In our ongoing journey towards a more sustainable future, it's disheartening to discover that some alternatives to plastic straws may not be as eco-friendly as we thought. Let's delve into this issue and explore the implications of these findings.
What is PFAS?
PFAS refers to per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances, a group of over 12000 artificial perfluorinated chemicals. These chemicals are used in various industrial and consumer products for their capability to resist water and fire, along with thermal and chemical stability.
PFAS - Per - and polyfluoroalkyl substances
It takes a very, very long time for PFAS to decompose fully. As such, these synthetic chemicals are dispersed in our air, soil, water, and food. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, PFAS are already found in human blood and in animals worldwide.
Paper Straws - No Longer And Never Actually Eco-Friendly Alternatives To Plastic Straws
In the study, researchers tested 20 paper straws, five glass straws, five bamboo straws, five stainless steel straws, and four plastic straws from the Belgian market for the presence of PFAS.
According to their findings, 18 out of 20 paper straws, four out of five bamboo straws, three out of four plastic straws, and two out of five glass straws tested positive for PFAS. In other words, nearly 90% of paper, bamboo, and plastic straws contain PFAS.
These numbers debunk entirely the notion of paper and bamboo straws as eco-friendly since they are not so different and, arguably, worse than their plastic counterparts.
The coating of PFAS that makes the straws water-resistant is also highly soluble, allowing them to leak into our drinks easily.
Since PFAS is contaminating our beverages, humans run a high risk of developing health issues if we build up too much of them over time.
So, where does that leave us if almost all drinking tools are harmful somehow? Not all plant-based straws contain PFAS, given that more truly eco-friendly straws are available on the market, such as coffee, sugarcane, grass, coconut, and rice straws. They are certified PLA-free, PFAS-free, and are home compostable. You can consume them stress-free, knowing that you are protecting yourself and the environment at the same time.
What Health Risks Are Associated With PFAS?
Exposure to PFAS has been linked to a wide range of health risks. Studies have suggested potential associations with:
- Decreased fertility or increased high blood pressure in pregnant women
- Impaired immune system, including reduced vaccine response.
- Hormone disruption.
- High cholesterol and high risk of obesity.
- Risk of some cancers, including kidney and testicular cancers.
- Children's development includes low birth weight, accelerated puberty, bone variations, or behavioral changes.
These findings demonstrate how PFAS will affect most of us and further underline the importance of reducing exposure to these harmful chemicals.
Are You Exposed to PFAS Right Now? How To Avoid It In Your Daily Life?
You might be wondering if you are exposed to PFAS in your daily life. The sad truth is that PFAS can be found in various everyday items, including food packaging, nonstick cookware, and even water.
Water sources worldwide are increasingly being contaminated with hazardous substances, including PFAS substances. These harmful chemicals can lead to serious health effects. Here are more information about the dangers of PFAS caused by water contamination through our educational resources:
- PFAS and Water Contamination: https://www.consumernotice.org/environmental/water-contamination/pfas/
- Health Effects of PFAS Exposure: https://www.consumernotice.org/environmental/water-contamination/pfas/health-effects/
However, there are steps you can take to minimize your exposure:
- Choose alternative straw options: While paper and bamboo straws are commonly coated with PFAS, plenty of other eco-friendly straws are available. Look for compostable and stainless steel options with no glossy outer layer. They are more durable and free of harmful chemicals.
- Support responsible brands: Seek out brands that prioritize sustainability and transparency. Look for certifications like "BPA-free,” "PFAS-free," and “PLA-free” to ensure the products you use are safe for both you and the planet.
- Check product labels: Take a closer look at the packaging of products you purchase, especially those that come into contact with food and beverages. Avoid products heavily wrapped in plastic and plastic derivatives, which are more likely to contain PFAS and other harmful chemicals.
- Spread awareness: Share this information with friends, family, and social networks. By raising awareness about the presence of PFAS in seemingly eco-friendly items, we can collectively encourage brands to develop safer and more sustainable alternatives.
The discovery of PFAS in most paper and bamboo straws is a wake-up call for everyone committed to living a sustainable lifestyle. While learning about these hidden "forever chemicals” is disappointing, staying informed and making conscious choices is essential. By opting for responsible brands and seeking out truly eco-friendly alternatives, we can take meaningful steps towards protecting our health and the planet. Let's work together to create a future where harmful chemicals have no place in our sustainable choices.