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Paper straws contain ‘forever chemicals’, may not be better…

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PFAS are commonly used in everyday products, from outdoor clothing to non-stick pans, that are resistant to water, heat and stains. However, they are potentially harmful not only to us, but the wildlife and environment, due to their very slow breakdown that can persist over thousands of years – a property that has led to the name ‘forever chemicals’. 

The damaging effects PFAs can have on our health have been well-documented. A research paper in 2021 noted that epidemiological studies have revealed associations between exposure to specific PFAS and a variety of health effects, including altered immune and thyroid function, liver disease, lipid and insulin dysregulation, kidney disease, adverse reproductive and developmental outcomes, and cancer. 

“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 researcher Dr Thimo Groffen, an environmental scientist at the University of Antwerp, Belgium, who was involved in the study.

“However, the presence of PFAS in these straws means that’s not necessarily true.”

A growing number of countries, including the UK, Belgium, and New Zealand, have banned or are in the process of banning single-use plastic products, including straws – with plant-based versions becoming popular alternatives.

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