True Cellular Formulas Team - December 21, 2023

The Toxic Truth About Toilet Paper

Risks and Healthier Alternatives


In the quiet corners of our bathrooms, an unassuming product has been a constant companion – toilet paper. This household staple, often stockpiled in case of shortages, seems mundane and harmless. However, beneath its soft exterior lies a troubling reality. Recent discoveries have unveiled that many toilet papers contain harmful chemicals, some of which are linked to cancer, skin irritations, infections, and even haemorrhoids.[1-7] This article delves into the shocking composition of toilet paper and explores healthier, eco-friendlier alternatives.

Shocking List of Chemicals Found in Toilet Paper

Toilet paper's innocent appearance belies its potentially harmful content. The whiter, fluffier, and more fragrant the roll, the more chemicals it likely harbors. Here's a breakdown of these concerning substances:

  • Chlorine: Used to bleach toilet paper to a bright white, chlorine can irritate the skin, particularly in sensitive areas like the vulva. It may also increase the risk of infections, especially in women prone to recurrent yeast infections.[1]

  • Furans and Dioxins: These toxic by-products of chlorine bleaching can lead to serious health issues. Large enough exposure can result in liver problems, chronic cystic acne, increased fat in the blood, reproductive issues, and even cancer.[2]

  • Formaldehyde: This chemical strengthens the paper to prevent disintegration when wet. Known as a carcinogen, formaldehyde is also responsible for skin rashes, respiratory issues, and irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat.[3]

  • Petroleum-based Mineral Oils and Paraffin: Added to enhance softness and scent, these ingredients found in “infused” or “lotioned” toilet papers are carcinogenic and can cause skin irritation and rashes.[4]

  • Fragrances: The chemical fragrances in scented toilet paper can disrupt the natural pH of sensitive areas and cause redness, itching, and burning. These fragrances are a cocktail of chemicals, potentially harmful to health.[5]

  • Bisphenol A (BPA): Common in recycled toilet paper, BPA is a hormone-disrupting chemical linked to reproductive, neurological, immune, and cardiovascular problems.[6]

All these chemicals can permeate the skin and enter the bloodstream, especially through the highly absorbent areas around the vagina and anus.[7] The regular use of such chemically-laden toilet paper, therefore, poses a significant risk to health.

The PFAS Problem in Toilet Paper

In a startling revelation, a report investigated 17 well-known toilet paper brands for the presence of PFAS.[8] These chemicals, notoriously known as “forever chemicals”, linger in the body and the environment for decades, unable to break down. The health consequences of PFAS exposure are severe, including cancer, asthma, thyroid disease, liver damage, and fertility issues. Surprisingly, the study found fluorine levels indicative of PFAS in brands like Charmin Ultra Soft, Seventh Generation, and even in some bamboo toilet papers. With 99% of Americans already having PFAS in their bloodstream, the addition of these chemicals through daily toilet paper use is alarming.

The Environmental Impact of Traditional Toilet Paper

The concerns with conventional toilet paper extend beyond personal health risks to encompass significant environmental consequences. The production process of traditional toilet paper has a considerable ecological footprint, raising critical sustainability issues.[9]

Deforestation and Biodiversity Loss: Toilet paper manufacturing often involves the cutting down of trees, leading to deforestation. This loss of trees, crucial for absorbing carbon dioxide, exacerbates climate change. Furthermore, deforestation disrupts wildlife habitats, contributing to a loss of biodiversity. While some companies use sustainably sourced wood pulp, the majority still rely on virgin forests, impacting ecosystems around the world.

Water Usage and Pollution: The production of toilet paper is water-intensive. It not only consumes large volumes of water but also contributes to water pollution. The bleaching process, essential for creating white toilet paper, often uses chlorine-based compounds, releasing harmful substances like dioxins into water bodies. These pollutants can have a devastating effect on aquatic life and can contaminate drinking water sources.

Energy Consumption and Greenhouse Gas Emissions: The manufacturing process of toilet paper, from harvesting trees to processing and transportation, is energy-intensive. This leads to significant greenhouse gas emissions, contributing to global warming. Additionally, the decomposition of paper waste in landfills generates methane, a potent greenhouse gas.

In contrast, sustainable alternatives like bamboo toilet paper offer a more environmentally friendly solution. Bamboo grows rapidly, requires less water, and doesn't need fertilizers or pesticides. Its cultivation has a lower environmental impact compared to traditional wood pulp sources. Moreover, bamboo's quick regrowth rate makes it a renewable resource that doesn't contribute to deforestation.

Hygienic and Health-Friendly Alternatives to Toilet Paper

Given the risks associated with traditional toilet paper, it’s prudent to consider healthier alternatives. Bidets stand out as the most hygienic option. Common in parts of Europe, South America, and Asia, bidets offer a water-based solution to cleaning after toilet use. 

They are gentle on the skin and reduce the risk of irritation, haemorrhoids, and infections. For those unable to install a full bidet, bidet toilet seat attachments offer a similar experience. These DIY attachments provide adjustable water pressure and temperature control, making them an effective alternative.

Handheld bidet sprayers are another convenient option. Easy to install next to the toilet, these sprayers allow for targeted cleaning with a simple nozzle trigger. However, it's essential to use filtered water in bidets and sprayers to avoid the toxins and contaminants present in tap water. A whole house filtered water system ensures that all water used for drinking, washing, and bidet use is free from harmful substances like chlorine, heavy metals, herbicides, pesticides, and VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds). This approach not only promotes personal health but also extends the life of bidet attachments by preventing the buildup of contaminants.

For those who prefer the traditional method, 100% bamboo toilet paper is an excellent alternative. This type of toilet paper is unbleached, plastic-free, and devoid of BPA, dyes, inks, or harmful chemicals. Bamboo is a sustainable choice as it breaks down easily, is completely biodegradable, and doesn’t burden landfills. Its rapid growth and easy 

replanting make it a more environmentally friendly option than tree-based paper. Brands like Bumboo offer ethically-produced, FSC® certified bamboo toilet rolls and contribute to reforestation efforts, further reducing the environmental impact.


The discovery of harmful chemicals in everyday toilet paper is a wake-up call to consumers. It highlights the need for greater awareness and caution in choosing products that come into close contact with our bodies. By opting for alternatives like bidets, bamboo toilet paper, or even reusable organic cotton wipes, we can safeguard our health and contribute to environmental preservation. These choices are not just about personal wellbeing; they represent a conscious step towards demanding and supporting safer, sustainable practices in everyday products. As consumers, we have the power and responsibility to make choices that benefit both our health and the planet.

  1. Majerovich, Jo Ann et al. “Chronic vulvar irritation: could toilet paper be the culprit?.” Canadian family physician Medecin de famille canadien vol. 56,4 (2010): 350-2.
  2.  Peivasteh-Roudsari, Leila et al. “Origin, dietary exposure, and toxicity of endocrine-disrupting food chemical contaminants: A comprehensive review.” Heliyon vol. 9,7 e18140. 11 Jul. 2023, doi:10.1016/j.heliyon.2023.e18140
  3. “Formaldehyde and Cancer Risk.” National Cancer Institute, Accessed 19 Dec. 2023. 
  4. “Mineral Oils: Untreated and Mildly Treated - Cancer-Causing Substances.” National Cancer Institute, 
  5. Pastor-Nieto, María-Antonia, and María-Elena Gatica-Ortega. “Ubiquity, Hazardous Effects, and Risk Assessment of Fragrances in Consumer Products.” Current treatment options in allergy vol. 8,1 (2021): 21-41. doi:10.1007/s40521-020-00275-7
  6. Santoro, Antonietta et al. “Neuro-toxic and Reproductive Effects of BPA.” Current neuropharmacology vol. 17,12 (2019): 1109-1132. doi:10.2174/1570159X17666190726112101
  7. Nicole, Wendee. “A question for women's health: chemicals in feminine hygiene products and personal lubricants.” Environmental health perspectives vol. 122,3 (2014): A70-5. doi:10.1289/ehp.122-A70
  8. Segedie, Leah. “How Toxic Is Your Toilet Paper? Investigation of Brands.” MAMAVATION, 17 Nov. 2023,
  9. Ashley Jordan, Shelley Vinyard. “The Issue with Tissue.” Be a Force for the Future, 19 Sept. 2023,