Just when you thought you had a good handle on reducing your exposure to PFAS, scientists are now revealing another concern. Could toilet paper be increasing your risk of cancer? Is it no longer safe to wipe?
A study by the University of Florida found the cancer-linked forever chemicals in practically every brand of toilet paper on the market. As Americans, we go through a lot of toilet paper—averaging 57 pounds per person each year. That is a lot of waste, and a lot of repeat exposure. Not to mention the environmental implications as all those chemicals find their way into our soil and water supply.
The PFAS (per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances) used in the production of toilet paper have been noted by the Environmental Protection Agency as being connected to fertility complications, high blood pressure, developmental delays, hormonal dysfunction, reduced immune function, high cholesterol, and some forms of cancer. PFAS might also reduce the effectiveness of vaccinations (ATSDR, 2022).
It’s not just toilet paper you need to be wary of. PFAS are also being found in other personal hygiene products like tampons, pads, and period underwear.
The Toilet Paper Report
Timothy Townsend’s team at the University of Florida sampled toilet paper and wastewater from four different regions around the globe (Wastewater Digest, 2023). The result? They found more than thirty different kinds of PFAS! One of the primary types discovered is known as 6:2 diPAP—linked to testicular dysfunction. “Given the known health risks linked to PFAS exposure, it is concerning that these chemicals are present in such a common household item,” remarks Tasha Stoiber of the Environmental Working Group.
While the news comes with frustration and shock, we really shouldn’t be surprised given the volume of chemicals commonly used in paper production. If you are eco-conscious, you might think you are making a responsible choice when you reach for recycled paper. While recycling is an important aspect of sustainability, in this particular case it isn’t without risks. Paper is treated with heavy chemicals in its initial production. The second process might expose the paper to even stronger chemicals as it is cleaned and repurposed into toilet paper.
What's the solution?
This product may be hard to avoid. For many people, toilet paper is considered absolutely essential. There is an immediate need to push manufacturers to find another, safer way to produce bathroom tissue. In the meantime, be mindful of your toilet paper usage. Consider alternatives like installing a bidet or purchasing organic bamboo-based toilet paper (TRVST, 2021). Make wise choices to protect your health from this invasive PFAS problem.
*This blog contains Amazon affiliate links. The owner of this site may receive a small commission if you click a link and make a recommended purchase.
What To Remember
New studies are finding an abundance of PFAS in toilet paper due to the harsh chemicals used in the manufacturing process.
Remember that PFAS are linked to many chronic diseases, including high blood pressure, cancer, and more.
To avoid exposure to dangerous forever chemicals, seek alternatives and push for change.
18 Toilet Paper Alternatives for Sustainability and Backup Use. Jennifer Okafor. (August, 2021). Trvst.