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Paper Straws Might Being Doing More Harm Than Good

Paper Straws Might Being Doing More Harm Than Good

Oh, how the tables have turned.

A new study has found that, despite what you may think, paper straws might not be great for the environment. In fact, they could be making our lives worse. The study found that paper drinking straws contain “forever chemicals” — compounds known as poly and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), which can stick around for years and lead to many diseases like thyroid issues, liver problems and even cancers.

Of 39 non-plastic brands tested, 90 percent returned with large traces of PFAs. And it’s not just limited to paper straws, as bamboo straws also have traces of PFAs. Only stainless steel straws remained chemical-free.

“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,” said Dr. Thimo Groffen, the study’s corresponding author and an environmental scientist at the University of Antwerp. “However, the presence of PFAS in these straws means that’s not necessarily true.”

Non-plastic straws have been on the rise in recent years as a (minimal) way to combat a worsening climate, and paper straws have been a popular alternative at restaurants. However, not only did the study find that paper straws are potentially damaging to our individual health, but it appears that they also are not helping the environment, either. While most paper straws are biodegradable, the trace of PFAS means that they could have a long-lasting environmental impact.

However, if you’ve been on the paper straw trend for a while now, that doesn’t mean you’re in immediate danger. Groffen assures that small doses of PFAS are relatively harmless to the body. But he does suggest switching to an alternative option sooner rather than later.

“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,” he said.

© 2023 RELEVANT Media Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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