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When volatile organic compound in the mattresses break down and release chemicals into the air, it is called off-gassing. Environmental health concerns start with the elements used to make Styrofoam. In addition to creating safety problems during production, many chemical additives that give plastic products desirable performance properties also have negative environmental and human health effects. Composed of 95% air, Styrofoam is incredibly light. But styrene, the chemical building block of polystyrene foam, is linked to an array of health problems. Urethane foam is everywhere — it’s under your carpet, in your furniture and your bed, in your walls, on the soles of your shoes and in your athletic helmet. What happens when you eat hot foods or drink liquids from styrofoam plates and cups is the styrene leaches out of the Styrofoam and into our bodies. “Trace amounts of styrene as well as various chemical additives in polystyrene migrate into food, which increases significantly in hot liquids,” explains Olga Naidenko, PhD, a senior scientist at the Environmental Working Group (www.ewg.org). Styrofoam poses serious health concerns for aquatic life and the general health of the planet, which is no surprise, given that it’s made of thousands of pieces of non-biodegradable plastic. In honor of the warm weather, you may be stocking up on all your disposable plates, tables cloths, utensils. Olga Naidenko, PhD, senior scientist, Environmental Working Group, Washington, DC. Formaldehyde on the skin may irritate the nose, eye, and throat. My husband and I like to have iced green tea during the day and use insulating foam cups because they keep the tea colder longer and do not sweat. 90,000 workers are exposed to Styrene every year, causing variuos health issues. You should not use the information on this website for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment. www.drweil.com. Everything you need to get started eating a healthful, satisfying diet is here – including eating and shopping guides, over 300 recipes, and an exclusive version of Dr. Weil’s Anti-Inflammatory Food Pyramid! Styrene, for example, is the foundational ingredient used to make polystyrene. This, too, will pass, I know, but a recent US Department of Health and Human Services report provides greater cause for concern. Your submission has been received! There are many reasons to ditch the disposable products and polystyrene foam is one of them. Styrofoam’s Durability Is Bad for the Environment and for Humans. It's finally warm and cookout season is upon us. When you drink your steaming cup of coffee or spoon your chicken noodle soup or chili out of a Styrofoam cup, you also take in small doses of chemicals that leach from it. You can recognize styrene foam cups at a glance. Based on what we now know, you’re probably safe using styrene foam cups for cold drinks, but I wouldn’t use them for hot coffee or tea, and I would avoid using plastic containers for hot foods. In June, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), part of HHS, added styrene — the chemical used in the manufacture of Styrofoam cups and food containers — to its list of substances “reasonably anticipated” to cause cancer. In the 12th edition of its Report on Carcinogens, the National Toxicology Program (NTP) stated that styrene is “reasonably anticipated to be a carcinogen,” and the International Agency for Research on Cancer has classified styrene as a “possible human carcinogen.” However, in spite of these classifications, polystyrene foam continues to be widely used for coffee cups, egg cartons, and salad boxes as well as disposable bowls, plates and trays. In recent years, spray polyurethane foam (SPF) insulation has become increasingly popular in both residential and commercial construction. “This is a problem, because polystyrene is very commonly used as disposable packaging for hot food and beverages” — and has been for many years! www.EWG.org. Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging - Your Online Guide to the Anti-Inflammatory Diet. What's a homeowner or builder to do? Spray foam is a two-component chemical system: Part A and Part B. Apart from the dangers styrene may pose to human health, it also poses a risk to the environment. Short-term exposure to styrene can cause eye, mucous membrane, and gastrointestinal irritation . Is using these cups harmful to us chemically? According to the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for TRYMER(TM) 3000 Rigid Polyisocyanurate Insulation, there should be no problems (for this specific product anyway).. The okayed verbiage is that it is like a health checkup for your foam and that doesn’t contain a laundry list of known bad chemicals, some of which are known carcinogens. Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are synthetic chemicals found in many products, such as clothing, carpets, fabrics for furniture, adhesives, paper packaging for food, and heat-resistant/non-stick cookware. Beyond that, styrene also has been associated with respiratory problems among workers exposed to it as well as with “styrene sickness,” a combination of headache, fatigue and feelings of drunkenness. Direct toxicity, as in the cases of lead, cadmium, and mercury; Carcinogens, as in the case of diethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP) It all adds up… so now, are you willing to accept toxic industrial chemicals in your soup? Styrene poses the greatest danger to humans who are exposed to it in the workplace. That doesn’t make the items I’m talking about any less dangerous, as you’ll see below, but it’s important to clarify what we are talking about. Something went wrong while submitting the form. Using your own coffee cup or mugs for your drinks and your own containers for foods is better for the planet. Then, too, every day we are bombarded with a multitude of toxins in the environment. Annually, around 2.3 billion kilograms of Styrofoam end up in our landfills and waterways. Styrofoam manufacture also uses hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), which … Spray-polyurethane foam (SPF) insulation, growing in popularity, is under scrutiny from EPA. To find out whether other food containers are made with polystyrene, look for the number 6 inside the recycling symbol. Environmental health concerns start with the elements used to make Styrofoam. CD and DVD cases, foam packaging peanuts for shipping, food packaging, meat/poultry trays and egg cartons typically are made with polystyrene to protect against damage or spoilage. As for recycling the material, some recyclers won’t take foam containers because they’re so light – the profit in recycling is calculated by weight. by Tristan Roberts. While the NTP describes evidence that styrene can cause cancer as “limited,” it reports that the occupational hazards include an increased risk for leukemia and lymphoma as well as genetic damage in white blood cells of workers exposed to the chemical. Styrofoam Cups/Polystyrene Are Dangerous To Your Health The iconic white coffee cup and clamshell take-out containers we all know so well are not REALLY Styrofoam, so let’s make that clear from the beginning. Styrofoam is made from the plastic polystyrene, which is based on building blocks called styrene monomers. They are persistent (i.e., they do not break down) in the environment, and si… The Dangers of Using Spray Foam Insulation. The cups apparently lose weight during the time they are at use. by Tristan Roberts. ©Copyright 2021 Healthy Lifestyle Brands, LLC. Some of these chemicals have been linked to health problems such as metabolic disorders (including obesity) and reduced fertility. Stay Connected With Dr. Weil - Get Free Newsletters Right In Your Inbox, Information on this website is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. Our content is further subject to our Terms and Conditions. It is used in the manufacture of a wide array of products, everything from boats, car and truck parts, to bath tubs and shower stalls with glass fiber-reinforced polyester composite plastics. These effects include. Health Effects. Foam is lightweight and is easily blown by wind or washed away by rain into water sources. More commonly known as Styrofoam, polystyrene is a petroleum based plastic commonly used for crafts, packing and insulation. Styrene causes lung tumors in several strains of mice. Used on Styrofoam products faster and to a greater degree when plastic is exposed to heat, Styrofoam made! Start with the elements used to make Styrofoam concerns start with the elements to... In part without permission is prohibited the workplace the inhalation of carbon black involves the system. Are also a concern in the mattresses break down and release chemicals into food! 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