An Oncologist, Dr. Eze Njoku, has urged Nigerians to exercise caution with the use of toilet roll, noting that studies have confirmed that chemicals used in its production are linked to a variety of health problems, including cancer, infertility, and liver illness.
Dr. Njoku said one of the chemicals used in paper production known as chlorine creates dangerous toxins such as dioxin and furans, adding that the toxins can accumulate in the body and create serious health problems.
The expert who spoke exclusively with PUNCH Healthwise explained that the bleaching procedure used to make toilet paper white contains the use of some dangerous chemicals, which pose hazards such as impaired reproduction and development, immune system harm, endocrine disruption, and carcinogenic potential.
He further said recent studies have shown that many kinds of toilet paper contain a hazardous class of synthetic compounds known as PFAS.
According to him, exposure to Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) is linked to cancer, asthma, thyroid disease, liver damage, and problems with reproduction, adding that toilet paper may also leak potentially dangerous compounds into wastewater systems.
He, however, suggested using a bidet, washable cloths, or bamboo paper instead of the bleached and chemical-filled toilet paper.
He said, “The method used to whiten toilet paper is called bleaching. While unbleached products are often rougher to the touch, the majority of businesses adopt this process. Chlorine, which can result in the production of dioxins, is frequently used in bleaching. Dioxins are exceedingly toxic, and their dangers include endocrine disruption, immune system damage, reproductive and developmental issues, and the potential for cancer.
“The majority of toilet paper contains a wide range of hazardous compounds that are bad for your health. The whiter, fluffier, and more scented your toilet paper is, the more chemicals it’s likely to contain.
“The use of a bidet or the installation of a small shower device next to the toilet is the greatest option for enhanced hygiene and environmental protection.”
A 2010 study published by the National Library of Medicine discovered that formaldehyde is sometimes used to improve the wet strength of toilet paper, tissues, and paper towels. In addition to being a skin irritant, formaldehyde is a known cancer cause.
Similarly, researchers from the University of Florida studying the presence of PFAS in wastewater discovered that one particular compound, called 6:2 diPAP, was the most commonly detected PFAS in sewage sludge samples, albeit at low levels.
A growing number of research studies are showing that PFAS poses significant health and environmental risks.