Article in the Guardian
All toilet paper from across the globe checked for toxic PFAS “forever chemicals” contained the compounds, and the waste flushed down toilets and sent to sewage treatment plants likely creates a significant source of water pollution, new research has found.
Once in the wastewater plant, the chemicals can be packed in sewage sludge that is eventually spread on cropland as fertilizer, or spit into waterways.
“Toilet paper should be considered as a potentially major source of PFAS entering wastewater treatment systems,” the study’s authors wrote.
PFAS are a class of about 14,000 chemicals typically used to make thousands of consumer products resist water, stains and heat. They are called “forever chemicals” because they do not naturally break down, and they are linked to cancer, foetal complications, liver disease, kidney disease, autoimmune disorders and other serious health issues.
The Wildlife and Countryside Link coalition has highlighted that
- At least 77% (81 out of 105) of English river sites where forever chemicals have been found would fail proposed new EU safety standards for surface water
- 42% (44 out of 105) of these river sites exceed proposed EU safe levels by more than 5 times.
- English forever chemical hotspots revealed with some rivers having 10 times or more PFAS than the proposed EU safe thresholds
- Official monitoring data only covers a handful of PFAS chemicals and not all rivers are tested, so actual pollution levels could be much worse