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Paper straws may contain chemicals linked to cancer, other ailments, study finds

There may be more reason to avoid paper drinking straws than general distaste for them, a new study from the University of Florida, published last week in ScienceDirect, suggests.

The researchers found per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, which in layman's terms are potentially harmful chemicals, in paper and other plant-based straws, which have become more common amid a global push to cut back on the use of plastics. In fact, the PFASs may provide the straws with their water-resistant properties.

The chemicals' presence, the authors wrote in the study's abstract, demonstrates the straws "are not fully biodegradable, contributing to the direct human ingestion of PFAS and to the cycle of PFAS between waste streams and the environment."

Mariah Blake, a journalist working on a book about PFASs, or "forever chemicals," notes they are linked to cancer and a host of other ailments. Read the study's abstract at ScienceDirect. Tim O'Donnell