June 24, 2024

Athens News

News in English from Greece

Paper straws contain highly toxic substances that are hazardous to health

We all remember the European Union's mandate two years ago to replace all plastic packaging with biodegradable packaging to protect the environment, but also the dissatisfaction of many consumers with paper straws, which, unlike plastic ones, “melt in the glass” after a few minutes.

However, it appears that consumers will have an additional reason to avoid using paper because, according to scientists, it contains substances highly toxic to human health. In a conversation with ERT journalists, EKPA Professor of Analytical Chemistry Nikos Thomaidis referred to new scientific evidence obtained from the analysis of chemicals contained in paper straws that ultimately harm our health and the environment. These straws contain poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), he said.

“They have been proven to have a negative impact on human health as well as the ecosystem, but it is very difficult to replace them because they have special properties,” Mr. Thomaidis said, adding that other recyclable packaging and especially paper, which is widely used for packaging food, is also hazardous to health.

In fact, as the specialist mentioned, using recycled paper for food packaging “has long been the focus of the European Food Safety Authority” because “recycled paper also contains other substances”.

Regarding the process by which these hazardous substances enter food and the human body, the ECPA professor states that “every package that comes into contact with food can release some chemicals by migrating from the material into the food.” However, in straws these quantities are infinitesimal.

He added that chemicals are everywhere and that we must remember every day that We use too many products containing harmful substances. “We practically live in a chemical world, so exposure to toxic substances has been a reality for many years. And of course, over time, this has been the subject of study by many groups and the focus of attention of the European Commission,” he said, adding finally that “The risk of using juice and coffee straws for 10 or 20 minutes is not that great.”

The expert urges consumers to use glass packaging (for example, when buying water in them), which is also the safest in terms of preventing harmful chemicals from entering the human body.

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