Ban Styrofoam in the British Virgin Islands
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Styrofoam is non-biodegradable and appears to last forever. It’s resistant to photolysis, or the breaking down of materials by photons originating from light. This, combined with the fact that Styrofoam floats, means that large amounts of polystyrene have accumulated along coastlines and waterways around the world. It is considered a main component of marine debris.
· Styrofoam is composed of Benzene and Styrene, both of which are known human carcinogens.
· 90,000 workers are estimated to be exposed to Styrene every year. This exposure causes a variety of mutations to the central and peripheral nervous systems.
· Benzene and Styrene have been linked to incidences of both Parkinson’s disease and leukemia.
· The production of Styrofoam is energy intensive, creating large amounts of greenhouse gases. These problems rank the environmental production costs of Styrofoam as second worst in the U.S. by the California Integrated Waste Management Board.
· Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), used in the production of Styrofoam, result in air pollution, causing damage to the ozone layer. They are now known to be 3-5 times more dangerous than originally believed.
Microwaving Styrofoam causes the release of toxic chemicals, which poses a threat to human health.
On Human Health
· Irritation of the skin
· Irritation of the eyes
· Irritation of the upper respiratory tract
· Gastrointestinal effects
· Minor effects on kidney function
· Polystyrene is not usually recycled due to its lightweight nature and the high economic cost of transporting and degreasing the petroleum-based material.
· 25-30% of landfills are dedicated to plastics, including Styrofoam.
· Polystyrene takes at least five hundred years to decompose.
· Styrofoam is the primary source of urban litter.
· Styrofoam is the main pollutant of oceans, bays, and other United States water sources.
· Styrofoam causes choking and starvation in wildlife.
It is time for the British Virgin Islands to be at the forefront in the region and the world when it comes to our environmental protection and the health of its citizens.
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