According to a Sky News report, a study found that paper straws contain potentially toxic chemicals that pose risks to humans, wildlife, and the environment.

Despite being considered the environmentally friendly plastic straw alternative, the study reportedly found paper straws contain poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).

PFAS, known as ‘forever chemicals,’ can lead to health problems such as thyroid disease, obesity, fertility issues, and cancer.

Harvard School of Public Health writes:

A group of chemicals known as perfluoroalkyl substances, or PFASs—used in everything from carpets to nonstick cookware to firefighting foams—may pose much greater health risks than previously thought.

A recent review from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) outlines a host of health effects associated with PFAS exposure, including cancer, liver damage, decreased fertility, and increased risk of asthma and thyroid disease. A June 20, 2018 ProPublica article noted that the CDC report recommends an exposure limit for one PFAS compound that is 10 times lower than the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s current limit.

Sky News had the scoop:

The groundbreaking European study analysed straws made from a range of materials from shops and fast-food restaurants and found 18 out of 20 brands of paper straws contained PFAS, with a lower frequency of detection in plastic and glass versions.

The research did not look at whether PFAS leaked out of the straws into the liquids.

The most commonly found PFAS, perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), has been prohibited worldwide since 2020.

No PFAS traces were detected in any of the steel straws tested.

PFAS concentrations were found to be low and since straw use is seldom, the Belgian researchers said they posed a limited risk to human health.

However, they warned the chemicals could accumulate in the body over many years.

“Dr Thimo Groffen, from the University of Antwerp, said the researchers wanted to find out if PFAS were in plant-based drinking straws sold in Belgium, after they were discovered in straws sold in the US,” Sky News noted.

After the study, Groffen discouraged the use of paper and bamboo straws after the discovery of PFAS.

He advised to “avoid using straws at all,” the outlet said.

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