Scientists Reveal Findings on Paper, Bamboo Straws

Study Shows Some Paper Straws May Be Worse Than Plastic
Study Shows Some Paper Straws May Be Worse Than Plastic

( – There’s been a war against plastic for quite some time. As people aim to be more eco-conscious, they’ve turned to other products to help reduce the amount of waste in landfills and the number of chemicals produced. Instead of plastic straws, many people turned to what they believed would be more eco-friendly alternatives: paper or bamboo options. However, a recent study suggests some of these replacements may not be as ideal as they seem.

Are Plastic Straw Alternatives Really Better?

In an all-encompassing study, Belgian scientists recently questioned whether paper and bamboo straws were better than their plastic counterparts. They gathered 39 samples made from various materials, including bamboo, plastic, paper, stainless steel, and glass. Scientists tested each of them for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, more commonly known as PFAS.

The majority of the samples, 27 of them, tested positive for the chemicals. Of those 27, 18 were paper. The scientists didn’t find much better results for bamboo. According to the study, 80% of bamboo straws contained PFAS, while 75% of plastic and 40% of glass straws did. However, those made of paper had the most positive results at 90%. The scientists speculated the reason for this was that manufacturers aimed to make the products water-resistant, so they don’t dissolve when people use them. None of the stainless steel straws contained PFAS.

Why Are People Against PFAS?

PFAS are typically known as “forever chemicals.” Even after the completion of production and once the products are long in the Earth’s landfills, the particles linger in the air, soil, and water. Scientists believe that plastic product manufacturing contributes to the levels of PFAS. So, reducing their use or eliminating them entirely would reduce the chemical. In turn, the health risks to humans — and animals — would become significantly less.

Correlations indicate that exposure to PFAS may increase the risk of liver and kidney cancer, thyroid issues, high cholesterol levels, and low birth weight in pregnant mothers. Packaging may also contribute to exposure levels because it transfers PFAS to food or drink items.

However, University of Antwerp environmental scientist Thimo Groffen said he believes there’s no need to panic. He says it’s “one very small source of additional exposure which could easily be avoided, but [he doesn’t] expect straws themselves to be very harmful,” per NBC News. Thimo Groffen, who wrote the study, clarified that it’s unknown whether manufacturers are intentionally adding the chemicals or it’s it’s accidental.

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