Styrofoam, as known as polystyrene (petroleum-based plastic), is a world wide everyday product for its lightweight and great insulation for any type of hot or cold element like coffee. However, many people do not realize polystyrene can be very bad for the environment as well as an individuals health.


Environmental Risks

The EPA and the International Agency for Research on Cancer has ”established styrene as a possible human carcinogen." Many who work in a manufacturing building where they make products involving styrene, some can have either of the following.


·     Irritation of the skin


·     Irritation of the eyes


·     Problems involving the upper respiratory problems


·     Severe stomach or intestinal effects


In worse exposures some can have even worse effects, including affects on the nervous system. Many other symptoms may include:


·     Depression


·     Chronic Headaches


·     Fatigue


·     Weakness


·     Also some minor effects on kidney function



Styrofoam appears to last forever, over time a great deal of polystyrene can build up along coasts and bodies of water all around the worlds. It is one of the biggest risks to the marine world.


Recycling Styrofoam


Even though most Styrofoam is not biodegradable, many found an outlet of using old and used Styrofoam. Through the use of sculpting. Below are a few examples of sculptures made around the world.





Styrofoam Cutting Hazards

By Guy Gardner, eHow Contributor


Styrofoam consists of hazardous chemicals that you can be exposed to when cutting.

More commonly known as Styrofoam, polystyrene is a petroleum based plastic commonly used for crafts, packing and insulation. Composed of 95% air, Styrofoam is incredibly light. While used for beverage cups and food containers, Styrofoam poses a number of health risks to those exposed to the substance in the form of dust, as well as those exposed to Styrofoam's composite chemicals. Those working with or cutting Styrofoam should be aware of these hazards. Have a question? Get an answer from a Medical Professional now!

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1.Skin, Eyes and Lung Irritation

◦Exposure to polystyrene dust as a result of cutting Styrofoam can result in skin, eye and lung irritation. Itchy eyes and skin and difficulty breathing can result from chronic exposure to Styrofoam dust.



2.Affects on Central Nervous System

◦Cutting Styrofoam with a hot knife is not recommended, as heating or burning Styrofoam will result in a release of the chemicals combined in Styrofoam, such as aromatic hydrocarbons, styrene and ethyl benzene. Burning Styrofoam can also release hydrogen bromide, chloride and fluoride. Exposure to these chemicals in Styrofoam can affect the central nervous system, resulting in symptoms such as headache, fatigue, depression and weakness.




◦Chronic exposure to the chemicals used in Styrofoam can also result in cancer, as a number of chemicals released by Styrofoam through heating are known carcinogens, such as hydrocarbons, benzene and styrene.




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Styrene, the primary raw material used in the production of extruded or expanded polystyrene, is a petrochemical that has been the subject of dozens of studies since plastics were developed. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) completed a Hazard Summary in 1992 and updated it in 2000 after the production of Styrofoam was reformulated with materials to replace chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) chemicals. The EPA found that the primary risks associated with styrene were occupational as well as outgassing found in indoor air from polystyrene building materials, consumer products and tobacco smoke. Although the EPA made no assertion of positive cancer risk, central nervous system effects from headaches, fatigue and depression to dysfunction in reaction time, memory loss, visual-motor accuracy and intellectual function were reported in humans. More physical and reproductive risks were suggested in animal studies; some effects were reported among humans in hearing loss, kidney and blood as well as acute mucous membrane irritation and gastrointestinal effects.




The main flammability risk with EPF is the gas used during the expansion process—EPF is largely air. Traces of pentane, a flammable gas that vents as the material cures, remain in the material until it is used by consumers and is flammable. Polystyrene is flammable does not burn out but slowly melts and bubbles, releasing a dense smoke that may contain toxic substances; it has been classified as a Group C Medium Risk Hazardous Art Substance by Australia’s Department of Education and Training.




Polystyrene presents the classic pollution problems: hydrocarbons and other toxic substances are used in its manufacture, are present in the finished material or are released into the atmosphere during its use or incineration. A viable recycling industry does not exist, in part because the bulky EPF contains so little reclaimable styrene. Polystyrene does not decompose--it breaks into smaller pieces, creating permanent litter and unusable fiber for hungry wild animals. The addiction to EPF is profound because it has become an integral and, in some cases, more environmentally friendly material than many options in today’s fast-paced consumer society. With so many problematic materials to choose from, the answer may lie in new materials such as organic plastics made of corn or bamboo or developing viable industries to refashion goods out of post-consumer materials.




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