Environmental Health Effects
Land & Water Pollution
Polystyrene, is a petroleum-based plastic known to most people as styrofoam. Polystyrene is used to manufacture many things such as plastic, resin, and rubber. The bad thing about polystyrene is that its main ingredient, styrene monomer, is associated with many environmental health concerns.
According to the EPA and the International Agency for Research on Cancer, styrene styrene may be human carcinogen. Heath effects that may be caused as a result to regular exposure to products made with styrene include:
Chronic exposure to styrene may have an affect on the nervous system:
Compostable products disintegrate into organic matter within 90 days. On the contrary, styrofoam seems to last forever. They are non-biodegradable and non-recyclable. As a result, styrofoam contributes to the accumulation of polystyrene in waterways because it’s very light weight and easily floats in water.
More information on the Environmental Impacts of Styrofoam
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Styrofoam is manufactured using hydrofluorocarbons, known as HFCs, which have a negative impact on the ozone layer and contributes to global warming. Styrofoam is made with petroleum, which is a non-sustainable resource, during production it creates heavy pollution which is harmful for the environment. If polystyrene is burned on bonfires, there is a release of Carbon Monoxide and styrene monomers into the environment which is hazardous to our health.
Photo credit: Geoff Livingston via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA
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(3) United Nations Environment Programme: www.marine-litter.gpa.unep.org
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“Land-based Discharges of Human-made Debris Comprise the Largest Source of Marine Debris in Oceans World-wide (nearly 80%).” Plastic Debris Rivers to Sea Project. Web. 08 Mar. 2016. <http://www.plasticdebris.org/>.