The production, use and disposal of Styrofoam cause adverse environmental and health effects. Yet, it has become such an accepted everyday product that people often don't stop to realize that it is made from polystyrene, a petroleum-based plastic made from the styrene monomer.
The EPA (http://www.epa.gov/chemfact/styre-sd.pdf) and International Agency for Research on Cancer (http://www.inchem.org/documents/iarc/vol82/82-07.html) have determined styrene as a possible human carcinogen.
When food is served on Styrofoam containers, toxic chemicals leach out of these products into the food that they contain (especially when heated in a microwave). These chemicals threaten human health and reproductive systems.
During its manufacture, hydrocarbons are released at ground level. This combined with nitrogen oxide in the presence of sunlight forms tropospheric ozone which causes respiratory illness in people according to Earthsource article. Have you wondered why you now have to watch for ozone alert before you step out for your favorite outdoor activity?
Styrofoam takes atleast 500 years to decompose, as it is resistant to photolysis, or the breaking down of materials by protons originating from a light source. This, combined with the fact that Styrofoam is lightweight and therefore floats, means that over time a great deal of polystyrene has accumulated along coasts and waterways around the world. It is now considered the main component of marine debris.
While the technology for recycling polystyrene is available, the market for recycling is very small and shrinking. Polystyrene is not usually recycled due to its lightweight nature and the high economic cost of transporting and degreasing the petroleum-based material. In addition, each air bubble has greenhouse gas trapped in it that when they are compacted, those molecules escape and contribute to global warming.
Styrofoam is usually made with hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFC) as blowing agents. These affect ozone depletion and global warming. They are not as harmful to the ozone layer as chlorofluorocarbons (CFC) which were formerly used, but as a greenhouse gas HCFCs are about 1000 times more powerful than carbon dioxide.
I was told that this ban against styrofoam has to happen city by city before a law passes to make its production illegal. Please help make Dallas lead the way by banning single-use styrofoam food containers in Dallas.
I support a styrofoam food container ban ordinance in the City of Dallas.