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The truth about polystyrene

Polystyrene (PS) is an issue for a number of reasons:

– PS production involves the use of benzene and other suspected human carcinogenic (cancer
causing) substances (styrene and 1,3-butadiene).
– PS leaches styrene and nonylphenol, both of which are known endocrine disrupting chemicals
and should therefore not be used for food packaging.
– PS is not usually recycled because virgin PS is so cheap, and recycling is also very toxic.
– PS will not biodegrade easily (made from non-renewable fossil fuel – think Iraq War, Ogoni
people’s struggle, polluted coastlines, South Durban health hazards and Sasol explosions!)
but will slowly leach out styrene and nonylphenol PS releases styrene gas when burnt. Styrene can readily be absorbed through the skin and lungs.
– High levels styrene vapour can damage the eyes and mucous membranes. Long term exposure to styrene can affect the central nervous system, causing headaches, fatigue, weakness, and depression.
– Burning PS will also release dioxins, one of the ‘Dirty Dozen’ Persistent Organic Pollutants that
South Africa is bound to phase out under the Stockholm Convention.
– In the 1990s MacDonalds (U.S.A) stopped used polystyrene but MacDonalds in South Africa continues to use it because it is so cheap

2 thoughts on “The truth about polystyrene

  1. what horrid stuff! i’ve never liked it and used to watch in horror as people put it in the microwave to release even more ugly chemicals. the sooner we get rid of polystyrene (particularly for foods) the better!

  2. Just found this blog via Mother City Living – wonderful! Right up my alley.

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