Why Styrofoam is Bad!

In my previous post about the worse trail marker ever alot of people posted or emailed me “why is Styrofoam bad?” I think I personally took for granted that everyone knew about the ill’s of Styrofoam so I thought I would dedicate a post to telling you it’s hazards.

Styrofoam which was created by Dow Chemicals in the 1970’s as a insulation device. Hamburgers, coffee cups, even house hold construction products were made out of Styrofoam (actually the Dow trademark name for styrene). The production of Styrofoam products used CFC’s. The use of CFC’s was banned in 1989 so many companies stopped using products made with Styrofoam including McDonald’s (voluntarily). Production methods changed so there was no longer CFC pollution in production but many of it’s ill effects remained.

Styrofoam does not breakdown easily and it releases chemicals when it gets wet that contaminates water that touches it thus contaminating the water supply. The following fact I already knew but I had to find it online to get that actual particulars (you will be shocked, I think about it everytime I get food in a Styrofoam container):

By 1986, styrene was found in 100 percent of all samples of human fat tissue taken as part of a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Human Tissue Survey. Researchers found that Styrofoam cups lose weight when in use, meaning that styrene is oozing into the foods and drinks we consume. It then ends up stored in our fatty tissue, where it can build up to levels that can cause fatigue, nervousness, difficulty sleeping, blood abnormalities, and even carcinogenic effects.

(source: http://www.greenhome.com/info/news/41.shtml)

There is also the question as to whether Styrofoam can be recycled. It can be but alot of recycling plants do not accept it because of the cost involved. Here are some other facts about Styrofoam recycling:

  • Polystyrene recycling is not “closed loop” – collected polystyrene cups are not remanufactured into cups, but into other products, such as packing filler and cafeteria trays. This means that more resources will have to be used, and more pollution created, to produce more polystyrene cups.
    -“Plastics Industry Grasps for Straws,” Everyone’s Backyard, January/February 1990, Citizen’s Clearinghouse for Hazardous Waste, p. 6.

What are the real health effects of eating and drinking food from Styrofoam containers:

World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer. Long-term exposure to small quantities of styrene is also suspected of causing:

— low platelet counts or hemoglobin values;
— chromosomal and lymphatic abnormalities;
— neurotoxic effects due to accumulation of styrene in the tissues of the brain, spinal cord, and peripheral nerves, resulting in fatigue, nervousness, difficulty sleeping, and other acute or chronic health problems associated with the nervous system.

Because many of these effects can be more pronounced on developing bodies, extra caution is advisable for women who are pregnant (or considering becoming so) and for prepubescent children.

And now I will take it a step further… Dunkin Donuts!! They are probably the single biggest food producer that creates Styrofoam waste! 3 billion Styrofoam cups are purchased and disposed of each year in the US from customers of Dunkin Donuts!! If after reading all of this you want to tell Dunkin Donuts to change their cups here is the website to tell them click here.

if you want to send them an old fashion letter or call them:

Dunkin’ Donuts Consumer Care
130 Royall Street
Canton, MA 02021
Tel: 800-859-5339

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  1. I found the information on this really informative. i wrote a really good essay on it.

  2. Thanks for posting this. I hope DD finds a viable alternative to styrofoam. Even if they use paper cups like Starbucks the cost of their coffee would not have to be astronomical.

  3. At my school, I am currently in a Global awareness Group and we are trying to switch our school lunch trays to plastic or a bio-degradable alternative, this article is helping us with our arguement. Thanks!

    • That is exactly what I said!! A couple of my friends and are were talking about how bad the food was at our school. Then, I brought up how bad the trays were and how much they take up land fill. Now, wee are writing to the Office of Food and Nutritios!!!

      • Lulu-

        Please let us know how it goes with your school’s Office of Food and Nutrition. I hope they get rid of the styrofoam trays and plates!! Good luck!


    • akfroggyville says:

      My son found this site while research trying to convince the school to stop using styrofoam trays. I see this post is 2009. please help give us ideas and what the outcome of your cause was!

      • I have been curious as to how some of the people who have emailed me about using this information to get their school to make changes… hope that it has helped

  4. Use 100% biodegradable packing peanuts instead of styrofoam made from grain, all-natural, biannually renewable. Check out http://Puffystufftn.com

  5. OK, so I have a few questions about this:1) if Styrofoam that gets wet is bad,what about the ground meat products that we get from the store? I would say that about 99% of meats are sitting on Styrofoam and yes there is a plastic mat in between but u can obviously see that the meats DO come in contact and they are very moist! 2) I have read in other places that pets that eat Styrofoam should suffer no harm unless it creates a blockage but again, their mouth and stomach are moist would this not release the same toxins in that case?

    • I definately not a scientist… but you are correct I would think the fact that our meat is sitting on styrofoam and it is wet that some of the toxins will leach out into our meat. But I also think that the amount of rain and the time that styrofoam spends in the landfills increases the likelyhood that MORE of the chemicals will get into our environment than the few days our meat spends on styrofoam.

      All of this being said… have you ever had the opportunity to buy meat that was not on styrofoam at your supermarket? I have not. Unless I get mail order meat from a place like LaCense or Omaha Steaks or at a very high end meat market we all do not have choice right now… which is really too bad!!

      • Now that I think of it I real alize that the meat I use to eat tasted bad compared to the meat I eat now, this meat isn’t near styrofoam. We just discovered something!!
        Also, I think that with the dogs that it is bad for thet no matter what. I mean think about how bad chocolate is for them. And the little liver and things them probably allreadl realy react up since it has a ton of chemicals.

  6. This info may help me and my friends change our school lunch trays for the better!!! Now we may be able to have a more eco-friendly lunch!!!

  7. Thaks for the luck!!! We are even signing a petion for back up in case we need it. FFINGERS CROSSED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  8. Hey! Just to let you know do’t look for me on the web. My name isn’t realy Lulu. Also, green4u is it possible for you to put some more reasons wh it is bad to eat on styrofoam trays. I t will help write to the Office of Foods and Nutritions. If you do could you tell me what it is under. Finaly, what is the derect web addressfor me to come to this page. Right now I am going through http://www.ask.com/why strofoam is bad.Please help me those who come to this websight it will be very useful.

    • This is the same Lulu as the one with the brown picture right above the letter above this one.

  9. I have a few of questions. Why can’t styrofoam dissolve in the soil. My teacher said that it is non-biodegradable.

  10. Let’s go green!

  11. I support green…

  12. How true is it that breaking styrofoam products cause greater damage to the ozone layer?

  13. WOW! I never really thought about that. I WILL NEVER USE STYROFOAM AGAIN! (Or I’ll at least try not to)
    Thanks for the info!
    – Megan aka Green Girl

  14. Lunch Meat says:

    Actually here in Toronto we have a program that recycles styrofoam. At the local university where I teach we investigated styrofoam vs. “bio” type products. Believe it or not styrofoam actually had a much smaller impact on the enviroment. I never realized styrofoam takes a small amount of energy to produce (and transport since it is so light). We also looked at the fact that even with many of the biodegradeable/compostable products, they all still went inside of plastic trash bag (i.e. not to a compost site or to place where biodegradation could likely occur). I think many people initially perceive styrofoam to be bad, but it’s probably no more evil than any of the current alternatives.

    • Enviro Health Degree says:

      I agree – thanks for researching this a bit more. Perception is reality in this society, unfortunatlely – people assume polystyrene to be bad for the environment. However, thinking that paper cups with the wax or similar lining is any more delightful for the environment is just wrong. Because – lined paper cups cannot be recycled and will take up more space in a landfill than foam products. So everyone – please research both sides of every postion in order for you to have an informed opinion. Because there is a good and a bad in just about everything – it’s just the spin someone puts on it that creates a stir.

  15. Hi, i was trying to find an article that stated the worst effects of styrofoam, cause my school uses styrofoam plates at lunch. I need to convince my school to change that. Thanks so much for giving me the simple facts that will hope fully do so.

  16. they are badfor the earth dont use them

  17. michael jackson says:

    you guys rock yahhhh heheheheeeeeee

  18. Spetsnaz says:

    Good job comrade we do the same thing in St.Petersburg

  19. The link to let DD know I want them to switch to something else for their cups isn’t working for me, is it broken?

    I want to start a campaign with my kids to pick up all the DD cups we find in parks and along the side walk and then take them to DD headquarters in Canton, MA. Anyone else interested in doing something like this?

  20. The Dunkin Donuts link is dead. I think they are on to you and your Blog..

  21. How long does it take for the styrofoam to leave your body???????? I work in the restaurant field and have done so for more than 20 years. I get a styrofoam cup and drink out of it all day and night untill I go back to work the next day and have done so for years. I feel tired all the time and can’t sleep, so my question to you is how long does it take for styrofoam to leave your body. I eat good and excerise and if the posion is in my fat cells will they go away after drinking in styrofoam cups night and day for 20 years. I can’t find any info on this subject at all telling people what damage it has done to there bodies and i am hoping you can help. Thank-You Donna

  22. wow so i get poisened every day at school

  23. I’m so happy to see this site!!! I’ve been going after D&D for the longest to change their cups!!! I just posted on their FB today and I do it every now and then to get more people aware of the impacts! Whenever I go to D&D I always make them give my coffee in paper cup and they get so annoyed but I love it!!!


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