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Three Studies Show “Environmentally Safer” Solutions Don’t Live Up to Hype

Three Studies Show “Environmentally Safer” Solutions Don’t Live Up to Hype

Researchers scrutinized the potentially toxic effects of paper straws, paper cups, and N95 masks.

I have reported on a wide array of stories in which eco-activists’ solutions did not live up to the hype and usually had unintended consequences that impacted the quality of life for humanity.

Three new studies confirm that we should be especially wary of “environmentally safer” solutions that are based on an amalgam of pseudoscience and bureaucracy.

Legal Insurrection readers will recall there was a mad rush to ban plastic drinking straws among leftist cities and progressive institutions, to save the oceans from plastic (despite the fact most of that material was coming from Asia and Africa). Washington, D.C., even hired an inspector to enforce the ban.

A new study from Europe suggests those paper straws may contain “forever chemicals” that are harmful to both humans and the environment and were observed more often than in a sample of plastic straws.

Belgian researchers tested 39 straw brands from restaurants and retailers for synthetic chemicals known as poly and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). The study found that the majority of straws contained those chemicals, but they were most common in those made from paper and bamboo.

The chemicals are referred to as “forever chemicals” as they can remain for thousands of years in the environment. The chemicals have been associated with health issues including thyroid disease, increased cholesterol, liver damage and kidney and testicular cancer and can harm the environment as well.

Of the brands tested, 90% of the paper straws contained PFAS, compared to 80% of bamboo straws, 75% of plastic straws and 40% of glass straws. None of the steel straws contained the chemicals.

I had a perfectly lovely “Lava Flow” cocktail ruined by a paper straw that disintegrated on me during my last vacation. I, for one, will encourage a return to sanity and plastic straws.

Next, a new study suggests substituting single-use plastic cups with their paper counterparts is not the environmentally friendly solution that was once believed.

Findings from the University of Gothenburg published in Environmental Pollution reveal that paper cups, once discarded in the environment, can cause harm due to toxic chemicals. In their study, researchers examined the impact of disposable cups crafted from various materials on butterfly mosquito larvae, discovering that paper and plastic cups exhibited comparable levels of toxic damage.

…The researchers explained that paper used in food packaging lacks resistance to fats and water, requiring the application of a surface coating to enhance its performance. This coating, typically made of plastic material, safeguards the paper from contact with substances like coffee.

In contemporary packaging, this plastic film is frequently composed of a bioplastic known as polylactide (PLA). Unlike conventional plastics derived from fossil fuels, bioplastics like PLA are sourced from renewable materials, such as corn, cassava, or sugarcane. While PLA is often considered biodegradable, indicating its ability to break down more rapidly than traditional oil-based plastics under specific conditions, recent research suggests that it can still possess toxic properties.

“Bioplastics do not break down effectively when they end up in the environment, in water. There may be a risk that the plastic remains in nature, and resulting microplastics can be ingested by animals and humans, just as other plastics do. Bioplastics contain at least as many chemicals as conventional plastic,” said lead researcher Bethanie Carney Almroth, professor of Environmental Science at the Department of Biology and Environmental Science at the University of Gothenburg.

Personally, I find plastics greatly contribute to my quality of life. I am very skeptical of the dangers associated with “microplastics,” especially when such analysis fails to consider the benefits of plastic. However, it is an excellent example of environmentalists finding another angst-inspiring subject to hype.

Finally, there appears to be a movement among American bureaucrats and media members to impose another mask mandate on the population. In fact, CNN has recently pushed N95 masks: “It may be time to break out the masks against Covid, some experts say.

Except now another set of “experts” indicate those N95 masks are toxic, as they are capable of causing cancer and organ damage.

…[A] study quietly re-shared by the National Institutes of Health in spring suggests the tight-fitting mask may expose users to dangerous levels of toxic chemicals.

Researchers from Jeonbuk National University in South Korea looked at two types of disposable medical-grade masks, as well as several reusable cotton masks.

The study found that the chemicals released by these masks had eight times the recommended safety limit of toxic volatile organic compounds (TVOCs).

Inhaling TVOCs has been linked to health issues like headaches and nausea, while prolonged and repeated has been linked to organ damage and even cancer.

There are substantially more sound reasons to avoid using N95 masks outside of occupational settings. But I will be happy to add TVOCs to the long list.

“Experts” have completely lost their ability to do proper risk assessments, in which the potential risks are weighed (using logic, reason, and sanity) against the potential harms. The above stories should be used as good examples of what happens after rushing to impose substantial new rules and restrictions based on limited data and eco-activist agendas.


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Never trust a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist.

The experts haven’t lost that ability. They are either parrots or liars.

    CommoChief in reply to Dathurtz. | August 29, 2023 at 8:52 am

    Very true. Which makes the few politicians who have the cajones to push back against these ‘experts’ like Fauci all the more remarkable.

When ecoterrorists go looking for traces of traces of trace substances as an excuse to ban something, they take the risk that their “earth-friendly alternative” has the same traces of traces. Like when activists discovered that Ben & Jerry’s ice cream contained much higher levels of certain “dangerous” chemicals than both Ben and Jerry were agitating against in someone else’s industry.

If you can leach “forever chemicals” out of GLASS straws, then… dayum.

What, leftist retards were wrong again? I already knew that.

    The Gentle Grizzly in reply to gonzotx. | August 29, 2023 at 7:33 am

    I loaded the page and see a grayed-out page that cannot be scrolled. There is a picture of a clock radio from about the mid 1970s or so. I am missing something; will someone please help an elderly grizzly understand?

    Thank you.

      GG – it’s a video of someone panning a hospital room while an interview is being conducted. All personnel around the patient are fully suited up in white hazmat-looking suits (including headgear with the little window and thick white gloves. ) At the end of the video the camera man accidentally captures a guy back in the corner of the room, arms folded, in a t-shirt, casually sitting in a chair with no special protective clothing at all.

    MarkS in reply to gonzotx. | August 29, 2023 at 10:02 am

    says “page doesn’t exist”

ThePrimordialOrderedPair | August 29, 2023 at 1:20 am

So-called “environmentalists” don’t care about the environment. They just hate humanity (advanced civilization – they are happy to let the Earth be populated by a few thousand savages in loincloths). These people destroyed the logging industry over an owl that no one really knows about or cares about (and that wasn’t a great contributor to any eco-system, anyway). They destroyed California farming over the Delta Smelt, that not one in 1000 of the environuts could identify. They went completely apesh*t over whaling … but now they are endorsing useless windmills whose construction are decimating whales on the East coast. ANd not a peep from any of the enviroloons. They screamed about global cooling and then about global warming … and, surprise, surprise!! both of these alleged catastrophes were caused by the exact same thing – burning petroleum!!

The enviro-left could not care less about the Earth. All they want is to reign over the destruction of modern Man. They sick, sick, deranged people.

So a paper cup is now bad for the environment. And plastic straws.

What is the English expression, “Penny wise and pound foolish”?

The Enviro-nuts do not understand the notion of ‘order of magnitude.’

The amount of natural gas used for home gas stoves is about 3% of the amount used for commercial power production.

Now they want to prohibit ceiling fans.

Thank God I am old.


E Howard Hunt | August 29, 2023 at 7:29 am

The next step is to conduct a straw poll.

amatuerwrangler | August 29, 2023 at 11:03 am

“Lava Flow” cocktail….. ???

There are no solutions in life, there are only tradeoffs. The question we need to ask ourselves is, “Are the tradeoffs worth the problem we think we’re trying to address?”

The chemicals have been associated with health issues

This is BS. With all toxins, dose and timing is the key. How can a human possibly get enough exposure from a few minutes of touching a plastic straw, or even hours doing so? Plastic straws aren’t disintegrating in your mouth, after all.