Scientists warn paper straws pose major risks to human health
Paper drinking straws are no better for the environment than plastic ones and could cause serious health problems, a new study claims.
A European study say they contain ‘forever chemicals’ that can take thousands of years to break down and have been linked to cancers, thyroid and liver problems.
Researchers studied 39 different brands of straw and found that 90 per cent of the paper ones contained chemicals known as poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).
They were found in the majority of the straws tested and were most common in those made from paper and bamboo. The only PFAS-free staws were stainless steel ones.
PFAS chemicals are potentially harmful to people, wildlife and the environment.
They break down very slowly over time persisting over thousands of years and have been associated with a number of health problems, including lower response to vaccines, lower birth weight, thyroid disease, increased cholesterol levels, liver damage, kidney cancer and testicular cancer.
They are used to make everyday products, from outdoor clothing to non-stick pans, resistant to water, heat and stains.
The results from the first analysis of its kind in Europe, were published in the journal Food Additives and Contaminants.
Dr Thimo Groffen, an environmental scientist at the University of Antwerp, said: ‘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.
‘However, the presence of PFAS in these straws means that’s not necessarily true.’
A growing number of countries, including the UK and Belgium, have banned sale of single-use plastic products, including drinking straws, and plant-based versions have become popular alternatives.
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