A new study has revealed a slightly disturbing picture: All of the world’s toilet paper is contaminated with PFAS, commonly called “forever chemicals,” which are a series of toxic chemicals that don’t break down and can accumulate over time and have negative effects on the environment, flora, fauna and, of course, humans.
Forever Chemicals found Toilet Paper
In addition, researchers from the University of Florida, in the United States, determined that the waste that is flushed down the toilet and reaches wastewater treatment plants could become a significant source of water contamination.
This, they assured in the results published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology Letters, can occur because when these chemical products reach the wastewater, they merge with the sewage sludge and are the ones that are finally spread on farmland as fertilizer or find their way into waterways.
For this reason, says Timothy Townsend, an environmental engineer at the University of Florida and co-author of the study, “it certainly points to another source to think about when trying to limit the amount of PFAS getting into the environment.”
Certainly, he adds, “it should be considered as a potentially significant source of PFAS entering wastewater treatment systems.”
Before explaining how they came to this conclusion, the researchers point out that PFASs, commonly referred to as “forever chemicals,” are a series of 14,000-product toxicants that are typically used to make thousands of consumer products water-resistant, stains and heat.
A recent study reviewed 21 popular toilet paper brands from around the world and found that they all contained detectable levels of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), also known as “forever chemicals.”
Health impact of Forever Chemicals
These chemicals have been linked to various health issues such as cancer, liver and kidney disease, autoimmune disorders, and weakened immune systems. Even recycled toilet paper was found to contain similar levels of PFAS as non-recycled toilet paper.
The study identified six different PFAS compounds, with diPAP being the most prevalent. Although not extensively studied, diPAP has been linked to testicular dysfunction.
Interestingly, the percentage of diPAPs found in sewage sludge was significantly higher in European countries such as Sweden (35%) and France (89%) than in North America (3.7%).
The study did not address the potential health implications of using contaminated toilet paper. While there is no research on how PFAS can enter the body during the cleansing process, it is worth investigating, according to David Andrews, a senior scientist at the Environmental Working Group.
He emphasized the importance of recognizing the widespread contamination of these chemicals and looking for solutions to address the issue.
What are Forever chemicals?
Forever chemicals, also known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), are a class of human-made chemicals that are used in a wide range of industrial and consumer products, including food packaging, cookware, clothing, carpets, and firefighting foam.
These chemicals are called “forever chemicals” because they do not break down easily in the environment and can persist for decades.
A recent study published in the Environmental Science & Technology journal found that all of the 10 toilet paper samples tested from various countries, including the United States, Canada, China, and France, contained detectable levels of PFAS. The highest levels were found in the samples from the United States and Canada.
The study suggests that the PFAS found in toilet paper may come from the use of these chemicals in the production of paper and cardboard products. PFAS are used to make products water, grease, and stain-resistant.
However, once these chemicals enter the environment, they can contaminate water sources and accumulate in the bodies of animals, including humans, potentially causing adverse health effects.
While the levels of PFAS found in toilet paper are not considered to be a significant health risk, the study highlights the widespread contamination of these chemicals in our environment and the need for more stringent regulations to control their use and disposal.
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