Researchers have identified toilet paper as a “potentially significant source” of perpetual chemicals. Disubstituted poly-fluoroalkyl phosphates (diPAPs) have been found in many cases in analyses of toilet paper in the Americas, Africa and Western Europe, according to a study published yesterday in the Environmental Science and Technology Letters. These substances belong to the group of per and polyfluorinated chemicals or PFASs.
PFASs are extremely persistent. Various studies have concluded that some of them can affect fertility or lead to developmental delays in children. The diPAPs now detected may transform into other PFASs considered carcinogens.
The researchers point out that “wastewater and sewage sludge are commonly reused for irrigation and/or land application.” They say that PFASs enter the environment through this route has already been explained in more detail. The presence of PFASs in toilet paper, even in small quantities, was therefore potentially significant.
Concerns were also raised about recycled toilet paper.
According to the study, some paper manufacturers add PFAS during the conversion of wood into pulp, traces of which can contaminate the finished toilet paper product. Recycled toilet paper may also have been made with fibres derived from materials that contain PFAS.
The researchers combined their findings with data from other studies on PFAS levels in wastewater and per capita toilet paper consumption. According to the results, toilet paper is responsible for about four percent of diPAP in wastewater in the U.S. and Canada, 35 percent in Sweden and up to 89 percent in France.
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