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‘Chemicals Forever’ Found in All the World’s Toilet Paper

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Researchers from the University of Florida reviewed 21 leading toilet paper brands that market this product in North America, Western Europe, Africa, Central America, and South America.

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A new study revealed a somewhat disturbing picture: All the world’s toilet paper is contaminated with PFAS, known as “forever chemicals”, which are a series of toxic chemicals that do not break down, that can accumulate over time and have. negative effects on the environment, flora, fauna and, of course, people. (Read: Air pollution may increase bone loss in women)

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 be a significant source of water contamination.

This, they confirmed in the results published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology Letters, It happens because when these chemicals reach the wastewater, they mix with the sewage sludge and are the ones that are spread on farmland as fertilizer or reach waterways.

For this reason, says Timothy Townsend, an environmental engineer ​​​​​​at the University of Florida and co-author of the study, “it definitely points to another source to consider when trying to limit the amount of PFAS that enters the environment.” Certainly, he adds, “it should be considered a potentially significant source of PFAS entering wastewater treatment systems.” (You can read: Contaminated metals found in the Nile River Delta in Egypt)

Before explaining how they came to this conclusion, the researchers note that PFASs, also known as “forever chemicals”, are a series of 14,000-product toxins that are commonly used to make thousands of consumer products resistant to water, stains and heat.

These agents, which do not break down naturally, are linked to diseases such as cancer, liver disease, kidney disease, autoimmune disorders, fecal complications, or a weak immune system.

To reach this conclusion, the researchers set out to review 21 leading toilet paper brands that market this product in North America, Western Europe, Africa, Central America and South America.

They found that brands with a recycled toilet paper line had as much PFAS as those without. “PFAS in toilet paper may be unavoidable,” says Jake Thompson, the study’s lead author and a graduate student at the University of Florida.

They also found six PFAS compounds, with diPAP accounting for the highest levels. “This compound has not been robustly studied, but has been linked to testicular dysfunction,” the paper reads. (You might be interested in: There are more than 170 trillion plastic particles in the oceans)

North America, for example, only added 3.7% of the diPAPs found in sewage sludge. However, this percentage was much higher in European countries, such as Sweden, with 35%, and France, with 89%.

David Andrews, a senior scientist at the Environmental Working Group, a public health non-profit that tracks PFAS contamination, told the Guardian that the report did not consider the health implications of people using contaminated toilet paper. .

“PFAS can be absorbed dermally, but there is no research on how it can enter the body during the cleansing process. This exposure is definitely worth investigating,” he noted and emphasized that it is not about using toilet paper, but “being aware that we have this problem as a society and that we need to look for solutions.”

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