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Green Minds LFLB Position on Styrofoam
Over 100 US and Canadian, as well as some European and Asian cities, have banned polystyrene food packaging as a result of the negative impacts to humans and the environment.
Green Minds LFLB feels it is time for our community to say NO to styrofoam!
What is Styrofoam/styrene?
Styrofoam is a petroleum-based plastic categorized #6. It is made from expanded polystyrene foam.
It is a non-sustainable, non-renewable and heavily polluting commodity.
Benzene is also a known carcinogen.
Human Health Impacts
Polystyrene food containers leach styrene (an FDA recognized neurotoxin) when they come into contact with warm foods or drinks, alcohol, oils and acidic foods causing human contamination and posing a direct health risk to people.
Acute (short-term) exposure to styrene in humans results in mucous membrane and eye irritation, and gastrointestinal effects. A chronic (long-term) exposure to styrene in humans results in effects on the central nervous system (CNS), such as headaches, fatigue, weakness, and depression, CSN dysfunction, hearing loss, and peripheral neuropathy.
Styrene exposure is also linked to decreased concentration abilities.
Some studies also indicate that women exposed to styrene have an increased frequency of spontaneous abortions and decreased the frequency of births were reported in another study, indicating that styrene has a negative effect on our reproductive genes.
Several epidemiologic studies suggest that there may be an association between styrene exposure and an increased risk of leukemia and lymphoma. However, the evidence is inconclusive due to multiple chemical exposures and inadequate information on the levels and duration of exposure.
IARC has classified styrene as a Group 2B, possibly carcinogenic to humans.
Styrene oxide is a reactive metabolite of styrene and shows positive carcinogenic results in oral exposure bioassays. Styrene oxide has been detected in workers exposed to styrene. IARC has classified this metabolite as a Group 2A, probable human carcinogen.
Manufacturing Styrofoam is very heavy on CO emissions since it is not only made out of petroleum but the process as well where they create the Styrofoam by blowing ozone-depleting CFC gases into the styrene in order to create Styrofoam. Modern methods of manufacturing Styrofoam does not use CFC but HFC (hydrofluorocarbons), which also are linked to the depletion of our ozone layer.
EPA has named the polystyrene manufacturing as the fifth largest creator of hazardous waste in the United States.
Styrofoam is a disposable product and takes longer than any other plastic to break down in nature. Styrofoam takes 500 years to decompose and at the moment takes up 25-30% of our world’s landfills.
In nature, animals choke on the Styrofoam causing wanted to life to die, and Styrofoam has been found to be a major contributor to plastic in marine debris.
Alternatives to Styrofoam
Green Minds LFLB recommend that we always try to use reusable products which cuts back on waste and reduces our children’s exposure to toxic chemicals.
However, when reusable not an option we recommend that the least toxic products always be used such as recycled paper, bamboo plates and some corn-based plastics.
Local schools and workplaces saying no to Styrofoam
Glencoe school district has banned Styrofoam
Baxter Inc does not use Styrofoam – stating they are in the business of healthcare and cannot do something they know may cause any of their employees to get cancer.
On 1/13/14 Chicago Public Schools announced plans to phase out the use of styrofoam food trays over a 24 month period.
If you would like to volunteer working a no to styrofoam campaign in Lake Forest or Lake Bluff please email firstname.lastname@example.org
More than 70 cities across USA has banned Styrofoam.
These include cities such as Washington, DC, Minneapolis, San Francisco, Oakland, Portland, Albany, and Seattle. The City of New York banned Styrofoam as of Jan 1 2019.