While paper straws have been touted as an eco-friendly alternative to plastic, new research suggests they may not be as green as we thought.
Scientists from the University of Antwerp have discovered that most paper and bamboo straws contain 'forever chemicals' known as PFAs, which are potentially harmful to both humans and the environment.
The study tested 39 different brands of straws and found that 90% of paper straws contained PFAs. These chemicals are added to make the straws water-repellent but are known to be potentially harmful over time.
PFAs break down very slowly, lingering in the environment for thousands of years.
Although the concentration of PFAs in the straws is low, the chemicals can accumulate in our bodies over time.
According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, health risks include lowered response to vaccines, increased risk of high blood pressure, thyroid disease, and even certain types of cancer.
The study suggests that steel straws might be a safer option, as none were found to contain PFAs. However, the researchers also recommend avoiding the use of straws altogether when possible.