Paper straws are more harmful to the environment than plastic

A study revealed that organic sorbets can also affect the immune and reproductive systems, cause cancer and even affect the development of some organs.

A study revealed that 90% of organic straws are made with chemical compounds that do not decompose and could remain in the human body, unleashing health problems.

Belgian researchers tested 39 different brands of paper straws, glass, stainless steel, plastic and bamboo to look for chemical compounds containing poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), which cause adverse effects on immune systems and reproductive systems as well as affect the development of organs such as liver and kidneys, as well as obesity and cancer problems.

The scientists found that 69% of the brands tested contained 18 different PFAS in total, revealing that they are not as sustainable as believed and are actually harmful to health.

“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,” said Dr. Thimo Groffen, an environmental scientist at the University of Antwerp who was part of the research.

According to the study, 90% of the paper straws contained PFAS in varying concentrations and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), a chemical compound that has been banned worldwide since 2020 for being linked to thyroid diseases, increased testicular and kidney cancer, high cholesterol and decreased immune response.

PFAS were also found in 80% of bamboo straw brands, 75% of plastic straws and 40% of glass straws. In the five brands of stainless steel that were studied, no PFAS was detected.

Although PFAS are often used to make everyday products such as clothing, water-resistant pans, nonstick pans and other similar products, these chemicals harm wildlife, the environment and people. The substances break down slowly and remain in the environment for thousands of years. This is why they are known as forever chemicals.

The study did not determine whether the chemicals in the straws were added during their manufacture or if they were contaminated. However, being present in most of the brands that were tested, PFAS were most likely used to repel water.