Read the full article by Bob Curley (Healthline)
“Toilet paper may play a role in the contamination of groundwater with potentially harmful substances called PFAS.
Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASTrusted Source) are found in a wide variety of consumer products, including cosmetics, cleansers, and firefighting foams.
While research is not conclusive, PFAS are suspected of playing a role in a variety of conditions, including cancer, reduced immunity, and reproductive and developmental problems.
‘Exposure to PFAS through drinking water puts people’s health at risk,’ Dr. Katie Pelch, a scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council, told Healthline. ‘Groundwater can also be used for agricultural uses and it has been shown that plants, including crops, can take up PFAS, so food in the diet is another potential source of PFAS exposure.’
Researchers from the University of Florida studying the presence of PFAS in wastewater say they discovered that one particular compound, called 6:2 diPAP, was the most commonly detected PFAS in sewage sludge samples, albeit at low levels.
It also was found to be the most common PFAS found in samples of toilet paper sold in North America and South America as well as in Africa and western Europe.
They published their findings today in the American Chemical Society’s online journal.
In their study, the researchers estimated that toilet paper contributed about 4% of the 6:2 diPAP in sewage in the United States and Canada as well as 35% in Sweden and up to 89% in France.
‘It’s not all of the problem, but it’s certainly a part of it,’ said Jake Thompson, a senior study author and a University of Florida graduate student.
He noted that the data ‘suggests that there are regional differences in contamination.’
According to the study, some paper manufacturers add PFAS when converting wood into pulp. Recycled toilet paper may also be made with fibers from materials containing PFAS.
‘We believe it comes from the pulping process and is put on instruments to keep paper from sticking,’ Timothy Townsend, PhD, a lead author of the study and a professor in the University of Florida’s Department of Environmental Engineering Sciences, told Healthline.
‘PFAS detected in toilet paper at parts per billion levels are most likely contaminants that arise from the packaging and/or manufacturing process,’ agreed Pelch.
Researchers said that the relatively low percentage of 6:2 diPAP in wastewater gathered in the United States, coupled with the fact that Americans use more toilet paper per capita than people in other nations, suggests that most 6:2 diPAP contamination comes from other consumer products.
‘The idea that the wastewater treatment plant or the landfill is the problem is a little misconstrued,’ said Townsend…
…The Natural Resources Defense Council recommends that manufacturers discontinue all non-essential use of PFAS chemicals.
‘That PFAS are being detected in toilet paper is a good example of an instance where intentional use elsewhere in the economy is spilling over and becoming a contamination issue in a product where PFAS is not needed,’ said Pelch. ‘Because PFAS are ubiquitous in our environment, individuals cannot buy our way out of PFAS exposure, and therefore a comprehensive approach is needed, including the phase-out of all nonessential uses of PFAS as quickly as possible. Furthermore, research and development of safer alternatives to PFAS is needed to address those uses that are currently unavoidable.'”…