Styrofoam is composed of the following compounds:
Benzene: Benzene is one of the principal ingredients of Styrofoam. Long term exposure has been linked to bone marrow damage and leukemia. Although the use of Styrofoam hasn’t been linked to benzene exposure, workers who make Styrofoam have a greater chance of being exposed.
Styrene: Styrene has been linked to numerous issues including; gastrointestinal problems, eye irritation, harm to the central nervous system, and reproductive system problems.
Ethylene: The EPA has listed ethylene as extremely toxic to humans. Although Styrofoam isn’t listed as a possible source of ethylene, emissions from the production of Styrofoam are.
Below is the chemical make-up of Styrofoam. In essence, it is a ton of repeated Carbon and Hydrogen bonds, and numerous polystyrene strands linked together. What makes styrofoam harmful to the environment is that it biodegrades at an incredibly slow rate, the multiple bonds take decades to break down. Additionally, gases are blown into the mix while creating polystyrene strands to create the ‘foam’, the gases used are the dreaded CFC’s. After blowing CFC’s into polystyrene, they are released to the atmosphere, and we are well educated about the negative effects of CFC’s on our ozone layer thanks to the aerosol industry.
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