The perils of polystyrene and why it should be banned
Polystyrene, commonly referred to as Styrofoam™, is poisoning our planet. Its primary component is styrene, also known as vinyl benzene, which has been described by the U.S. National Toxicology Program as a likely human carcinogen. Ultimately it’s destined to become litter and poses serious risks during manufacturing, use, and disposal.
Styrene mimics estrogens in the body, disrupting normal hormone functions, possibly contributing to thyroid problems, menstrual irregularities, and other hormone-related problems, as well as breast cancer and prostate cancer. Chronic exposure to high levels of styrene can cause liver damage and nerve tissue damage. These effects can be especially pronounced in fetuses and young children.
It’s also a major component of the plastic debris in the oceans. Currents and other marine action degrade polystyrene into carcinogenic microplastic particles that end up in our food chain. They are eaten by animals like fish, birds and turtles who mistake the particles for food, often leading to death from malnutrition.
It’s practically impossible to dispose of properly.
Incinerating polystyrene for energy can release emissions containing more than 90 different compounds, including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which may cause birth defects. When burned at lower temperatures typical of a campfire or a household fireplace, polystyrene can also produce PAHs, as well as carcinogenic styrene monomers and deadly carbon monoxide.
Reducing our use of products made from polystyrene will reduce health risks and environmental risks posed by this toxic polymer, of which there are many.
The cities banning polystyrene continues to grow. Do you live in one?
Increased bans of polystyrene by local and regional municipalities throughout the US and Canada are making a difference. Check out the map below to see if you live in an area that has one in place. If not, consider contacting your local government to push for a ban.
World Centric®’s foodservice products – including plates, take-out containers, bowls and cups – are a great alternative to products made from polystyrene.
Download our information sheet on polystyrene here.
Learn more about how World Centric products can replace polystyrene plastic
Want to know more about our products that can take the place of polystyrene foodservice ware? Use this form to get more information.