Plastic Straw Ban More Than an 'Inconvenience'

Plastic Straw Ban More Than an 'Inconvenience'

M.C. Millman 

Those paper straws that disintegrate as you sip may be doing more harm than good. 

Several states, including New York, have implemented a plastic straw ban. While plastic straws are still available, the ban means food establishments cannot provide single-use plastic beverage straws except upon request, as reported by BoroPark24 here. 

Many consumers have been opting for paper straws as an eco-friendly and sustainable alternative to plastic ones.

A new study  published in the journal Food Additives and Contaminants found that paper straws may contain 'forever chemicals,' which are potentially harmful to health as reported by BoroPark24 here 

In the study, European researchers tested 39 different straw brands for forever chemicals known as poly and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). The study results showed that while most straws contained these forever chemicals, they were most commonly seen in paper and bamboo straws. 

More specifically, 90% of the paper straws tested in the study contained PFAS, compared to 80% of bamboo straws, 75% of plastic straws, and 40% of glass straws. Steel straws were the only ones without any PFAS. 

While it is still unclear if the manufacturers intentionally added PFAS, the researchers believe it may come from a water-repellent coating. 

"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. "The presence of PFAS in paper and bamboo straws shows that they are not necessarily biodegradable." 

While the forever chemical exposure from plastic straws is likely minimal, "small amounts of PFAS, while not harmful in themselves, can add to the chemical load already present in the body," says Dr Groffen. 

For tips on limiting exposure to forever chemicals, read BoroPark24 here. 

Groffen advises consumers to use stainless steel straws or simply avoid using straws. 

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