Researchers from the University of Florida found PFAS in 21 popular toilet paper brands (although brand names were withheld) that were sourced from countries all over the world, including North America, Western Europe, Africa, Central America, and South America. The study was published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology Letters.
Disubstituted polyfluoroalkyl phosphates (diPAPs), along with five additional PFAS compounds, were discovered by the researchers after they recovered PFAS from the toilet paper and sewage and examined them. The possible carcinogen perfluorooctanoic acid is one of the more stable PFAS that the diPAPs can transform into, according to a news release shared with the American Chemical Society (PFOA).
The study identified low levels of PFAS in both the sewage and toilet paper, but the researchers did not assess any potential health hazards associated with using PFAS-containing toilet paper.
Jake Thompson, the study’s primary author and a doctoral student at the University of Florida, told The Guardian that he wasn’t in a rush to change his toilet paper and that he didn’t advocate for people to quit using or use less of it. The problem is that we’re finding yet another source of PFAS, which emphasizes how pervasive the chemicals are.
The authors of the study coupled their findings with those of other investigations into PFAS in sewage from various parts of the world. Given this knowledge, they were able to estimate the contribution of toilet paper to 6:2 diPAP in sewage in France, Sweden, and the United States as up to 89%, 35%, and 4%, respectively. The researchers emphasized that their research demonstrates that a significant source of PFAS in some nations’ wastewater treatment systems is toilet paper.
PFAS are a class of dangerous, synthetic compounds related to a number of negative health effects, including effects on adult reproduction, effects on child development, and an increased risk of cancer.
These substances have earned the term eternal chemicals because of their inability to break down in the environment. Thousands of products, such as carpets or cleaners, waterproof clothes and gear, and firefighting foam, contain PFAS.
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The American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) issued a statement to WSVN 7News in response to the study, saying that PFAS are not used to manufacture toilet paper in the U.S.
Thompson claimed that the low levels of PFAS suggest that chemicals are added to the paper pulp to prevent sticking during manufacturing. According to Thompson, PFAS may or may not be put on purpose, and it’s possible that the brands of toilet paper are unaware that PFAS was added to the manufacturing equipment.
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It is frightening just that it exists at all, Thompson said WSVN 7News. As a society, we must consider ways to reduce the number of toxic substances in various consumer goods.