When you think about the chemicals that can be found in your toilet paper, your mind might immediately jump to fragrances or dyes but a recent study has revealed that there may be far more concerning substances lurking in your bathroom tissue such as per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS.
What is PFAS?
Forever chemicals also known as PFAS, are a group of man-made chemicals that have been used in a wide range of consumer products since the 1940s.
They’re known for their ability to repel water and oil, making them useful in everything from non-stick cookware to waterproof clothing.
forever chemicals have been linked to a variety of health problems such as cancer, liver disease, kidney disease, autoimmune disorder, and many more.
The researchers analyzed 21 different brands of toilet paper from different countries and found that all but one contained at least some PFAS.
These findings are particularly concerning because of the role that toilet paper plays in our wastewater systems.
When we flush our used toilet paper down the toilet, it enters the sewage system and eventually makes its way to a treatment plant.
From there, the paper is broken down and the resulting sludge is treated before being disposed of or used as fertilizer.
Once in the treatment plant, PFAS can be difficult (if not impossible) to remove, which means that they will end up in our rivers, lakes, and oceans.
Why are these chemicals in our toilet paper in the first place?
It turns out that many manufacturers use PFAS to create a smoother and more absorbent texture in their products.
Some companies have already begun to phase out the use of PFAS in their toilet paper, but others continue to use the chemicals despite the potential risks.
What can consumers do to protect themselves and the environment from PFAS in toilet paper?
One option is to switch to a brand that doesn’t use these chemicals.
The researchers behind the new study recommend looking for products that are labeled “PFAS-free” or “fluorine-free.”
If you’re unsure whether your current brand of toilet paper contains PFAS, you can contact the manufacturer and ask.
Another important step is to avoid flushing any products in the toilet that don’t belong there.
This includes not just toilet paper, but also items like wipes, tampons, and dental floss.
By reducing the amount of non-toilet paper materials in our sewage system, we can help prevent the spread of harmful chemicals like PFAS.
Ultimately, the presence of PFAS in toilet paper is just one piece of a larger problem with the use of these chemicals in consumer products.
As more research is conducted on the health and environmental impacts of PFAS, it’s becoming increasingly clear that we need to take action to limit our exposure to these harmful substances.
By making informed choices about the products we buy and how we dispose of them, we can all play a role in protecting ourselves and our planet from the dangers of PFAS.