Polystyrene is classified as a possible human carcinogen by the EPA and by the International Agency for Research on Cancer; its manufacturing process is classified as the 5th largest creator of hazardous waste by the EPA; the toxic chemicals in Polystyrene leach out into the food that they contain; it is made with petroleum; uses up large amounts of space in landfills; not biodegrade for hundreds of years; and in many instances is dumped into the environment as litter.
Polystyrene foam is a major component of plastic debris in the ocean, where it becomes toxic to marine life which we, humans, then consume in our food. Portland, Oregon and San Francisco are among about one hundred cities in the United States that currently have some sort of ban on polystyrene foam in restaurants. Other cities around the world, including Muntinlupa, Toronto, and Paris, are also taking similar initiatives. It is time that United States takes the first step as a country to completely ban Polystyrene foam products.
Do we have to wait for Polystyrene to be in every fish we eat, for it to affect the health of people who use it, for our landfills to overflow with Polystyrene cups for someone in our government to begin thinking about the ban on Polystyrene?
It is time to take action against something that is undoubtebly harmful in all aspects of the environment we live in.
Polystyrene foam is very slow to biodegrade and is a huge component of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and along shores and waterways. Most polystyrene products are currently not recycled due to the lack of incentive to invest in the compactors and logistical systems required, so most of these artificial materials end up either in the ocean or a landfill. In addition, Polystyrene foam is made with petroleum, which has devastating impact on the environment and foreign relations. Also, animals, such as fish and birds, do not recognize Polystyrene foam and sometimes mistake it for food, which we, humans, end up having on our plate. A Japanese study conducted on wild-type and AhR-null mice found that the styrene trimer, which the authors detected in cooked polystyrene container-packed instant foods, may increase thyroid hormone levels (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2430229/). Since polystyrene is used in so many of our products, it is not a surprise that thyroid disease is one of the most common hormonal disorders. Similarly, Polystyrene is classified as a possible human carcinogen by the EPA and by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.
Portland, Oregon and San Francisco are among about one hundred cities in the United States that currently have some sort of ban on polystyrene foam in restaurants. It is now time to take a national initiative and address the problem of Polystyrene foam directly as a country. Polystyrene foam is not just a small nuisance in our environment; it affects everything around us, including us, and should be banned.