Styrene is the foundational ingredient used to make polystyrene. It is broadly used in the manufacture of plastics, resins and rubber. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the International Agency for Research on Cancer have established styrene as a possible human carcinogen.
Those who work in styrene product manufacturing and are regularly exposed to high levels of styrene have experienced acute health effects, including the following:
Irritation of the skin
Irritation of the eyes
Irritation of the upper respiratory tract
Styrofoam is non-biodegradable and appears to last forever. It’s resistant to photolysis, or the breaking down of materials by photons originating from light. This, combined with the fact that Styrofoam floats, means that large amounts of polystyrene have accumulated along coastlines and waterways around the world. It is considered a main component of marine debris.
The Earth Resource Foundation reports that Styrofoam manufacturers were the fifth largest producer of toxic waste way back in 1986. With our population growing exponentially, so is the use of plastics.
Styrofoam and Styrofoam products fill up 30 percent of our landfill space, and landfills are fast becoming full. A Recycling Revolution reports that packaging material makes up one-third of an average dump.