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Electric toothbrushes 'horrifying' in how they harm environment


Electric toothbrushes leave a high carbon footprint. Stock picture

Electric toothbrushes leave a high carbon footprint. Stock picture

Electric toothbrushes leave a high carbon footprint. Stock picture

New research has found that electric toothbrushes are the least environmentally friendly to the planet when compared with other toothbrushes.

However, the Trinity College Dublin study shows that bamboo toothbrushes are not the most sustainable to the planet - instead, continually recycled plastic toothbrushes are.

The study compared different kinds of toothbrushes - electric, standard plastic, plastic with a replaceable head and bamboo brushes - to determine the effects they had on the planet in terms of their manufacturing processes.

Associate Professor in Public Dental Health Dr Brett Duane, who conducted the study, said electric toothbrushes were "fairly horrifying" for the planet.

"We found that electric toothbrushes are fairly horrifying in how harmful they are to both people's health and the planet."

Researchers considered different manufacturing models of the toothbrush and measured the environmental impact (carbon footprint) and human-health impact of the toothbrush. They found the electric toothbrush was comparatively harmful for planetary health.

By looking at human health related to environmental damage, it found that 10 hours were taken off the lives of ­people who helped to manufacture the toothbrush.

"For every electric toothbrush we take, we buy and use, we take 10 hours off life off them. We do need to think about it, how much harm you are doing to other people who are making your toothbrush," said Dr Duane.

He added that while some studies suggest electric toothbrushes were more efficient at removing dental plaque, they weren't vastly different to a ­regular toothbrush.

"There is some evidence to show that it can remove plaque a little bit better than other toothbrushes, but they can't say for sure in any way or form that it causes better ­public health," he added.

But bamboo brushes are not the answer, because if everybody switched to using them a lot of land and water would be required to grow large supplies.

Irish Independent