You might think that using a paper straw instead of a plastic one is good for the environment. But new research shows that paper straws might actually contain more harmful chemicals than plastic ones.

Scientists in Belgium found that a group of chemicals called PFAS, also known as “forever chemicals,” were more often found in paper and bamboo straws compared to plastic ones. These chemicals can be harmful and last a long time in the environment.

The researchers looked at different types of straws made from plastic, stainless steel, bamboo, glass, and paper. They found PFAS in 27 out of 39 brands of straws they tested.

Surprisingly, paper straws were the ones most likely to have PFAS. 90% of paper straws contained these chemicals, while 75% of plastic straws did. What’s concerning is that the paper straws had even more PFAS in them compared to plastic ones.

The scientists explained that companies might use PFAS in paper straws to make them water-resistant, but these chemicals can also come from materials that are already contaminated.

This research shows that it’s not easy for people to make the best choices when it comes to products. Even if you’re trying to be environmentally friendly, you might end up using something that’s not as good as you thought.

This study supports an earlier one from 2021 that found PFAS in paper straws but not in plastic ones.

PFAS can dissolve in water, which makes them even more worrisome. It’s tough to know what to do when even seemingly good choices can have downsides.

The Environmental Protection Agency is working to get rid of forever chemicals, but for now, it’s important to be aware of what you’re using. Every small decision can make a difference for the environment.