OAN’s Brooke Mallory
6:02 PM – Tuesday, August 29, 2023
According to a report that was published on August 24th, the widespread trend for restaurants, bars, and fast food establishments to utilize paper straws instead of plastic ones is no longer considered as environmentally friendly as was once believed.
Research from Belgium that was published in the journal “Food Additives and Contaminants” stated that the majority of paper and bamboo straws examined contained “forever chemicals,” or “PFAS,” technically known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl compounds.
Additionally, the study concluded that PFAS are much less prevalent in plastic straws. The Belgian investigation followed a 2021 American probe that discovered 21 PFAS in paper and other plant-based straws, but no detectable concentrations in plastic ones.
Such substances have the ability to build up in our bodies and cause cancer due to the level of carcinogens present.
The study found a total of at least 18 different PFAS, of which the most prevalent were prohibited internationally in 2020.
These substances are also harmful to the ecosystem as well.
These so-called “eco-friendly” plant-based straws are not necessarily a more sustainable alternative to plastic straws since they can bring on an additional source of PFAS exposure in both humans and the environment, for example, after degradation in landfills or through incomplete incineration.
These findings were also highlighted by USA Today.
The researchers claimed that the presence of PFAS may be explained by contaminated soil or an unforeseen side effect of material recycling, even though manufacturers may purposefully cover their plant-based straws in chemicals to make them water-repellent.
To ascertain the main source of contamination in the straws and how the chemicals may affect individuals ingesting them while they decompose in drinks, the authors advised for additional research and investigations.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says that PFAS have been linked to: “Reproductive effects such as decreased fertility or high blood pressure in pregnant women, developmental effects or delays in children, including low birth weight, accelerated puberty, bone variations, or behavioral changes, increased risk of some cancers, including prostate, kidney, and testicular cancers, reduced ability of the body’s immune system to fight infections, including reduced vaccine response, interference with the body’s natural hormones, increased cholesterol levels and/or risk of obesity.”
The authors of the research also advised using reusable stainless-steel straws, since they have been tested to be PFAS-free. This is for both environmental reasons and human health reasons.
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