These ‘eco-friendly’ plant-based straws are not necessarily a more sustainable alternative to plastic straws …A study recently published in the Food Additives and Contaminants journal, which found evidence of PFAS (harmful chemicals) not only in plastic, but in paper, bamboo, and glass straws, with paper straws being the most likely to contain PFAS.
The Big Picture: Scientists in Belgium tested 39 different brands of straws found in the country that were made from five materials: paper, bamboo, plastic, glass and stainless steel. PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances), or "forever chemicals," were found in nearly all straws tested, with the exception of straws made from stainless steel. PFAS can stay in the human body, and do not easily break down or biodegrade in nature; the chemicals have been associated with several potential health risks.
PFAS were found in 90% of paper brands tested. USA Today reports, "They were also found in four out of five bamboo straws, three out of four plastic straws and two out of five glass straws," also noting that, "Eighteen different PFAS were detected in total, though overall in low concentrations. The chemical most commonly found, however, was perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) which was banned globally in 2020."
In Conclusion: The study states "The most sustainable alternative seems to be stainless-steel straws, which can be reused, do not contain PFAS and can be fully recycled."
by Jenna Lee,