What is Styrofoam?
the early 1900s, The Dow Chemical Company invented a process for extruding polystyrene to achieve a closed cell foam that
resists moisture. Recognizing its superior insulating properties, buoyancy and "unsinkability," it was originally adopted
in 1942 by the Coast Guard for use in a six-man life raft.
"McIntire said his invention of foamed polystyrene was accidental.
His invention came as he was trying to find a flexible electrical insulator in the early 1940s. Polystyrene, which already
had been invented, was a good insulator but too brittle. McIntire tried to make a new rubber-like polymer by combining styrene
with isobutylene, a volatile liquid, under pressure. The result was foam polystyrene with bubble, 30 times lighter than regular
Why is Styrofoam Harmful to the Environment?
Styrofoam manufacturing required the use of ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons
(CFCs) to blow the styrene into its final hard foam form. Today, following the CFC ban that came with the Montreal
Protocol on Ozone Depletion in 1989, Dow instead uses carbon dioxide and pentane as blowing agents.
That switch may be sparing the ozone layer, but pentane is a highly flammable chemical that contributes to smog, so the industry
has essentially traded one evil for another. But just in case water contamination and clouds of toxic ash are not valid-enough
reasons to convince co-workers to switch to reusable mugs, then maybe the potential health effects of Styrofoam will have
an impact. As early as 1972, researchers identified potentially toxic styrene residues in a majority of Americans sampled.
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. (http://www.newfrontier.com/asheville/earth-talk4.htm)