Polystyrene: poisons your food, takes 500 years to decompose

How many times have you had wine, spirits or beer from a styrofoam cup? Wuhloss!

Bart Sims of the Future Centre Trust posted a must-read article at Business Barbados. Read The Dangers of Polystyrene and you will be convinced that we must act as a society to ban this dangerous product.

Polystyrene’s impact on our environment and landfills should be enough reason for small island countries to issue an out and out ban. If that’s not enough, the scientific evidence about how the chemicals in the foam leach into our food should convince us.

Of course, in Barbados we don’t have an Environmental Protection Act because successive DLP and BLP governments never viewed laws or the environment as a priority.

So… we have to act for ourselves as citizens while our political elites stuff their faces at the Hilton every lunchtime.

Well worth your time to head on over to Business Barbados and read Bart Sims’ excellent article. Here are some excerpts…

“Many people are not aware of the harmful effects of Polystyrene, (including myself until very recently).  This article aims to highlight some of the dangers, both to our health and to the environment…

… If the first settlers in Barbados in 1625 had been able to eat from polystyrene and the containers had been put into a landfill, the same containers would still be around today, (luckily they couldn’t – it was only invented in 1839).

…Polystyrene contains the toxic substances Styrene and Benzene, suspected carcinogens and neurotoxins that are hazardous to humans. Hot foods and liquids actually start a partial breakdown of the Styrofoam, causing some toxins to be absorbed into our bloodstream and tissue.

Polystyrene food containers leach the toxin Styrene when they come into contact with warm food or drink, alcohol, oils and acidic foods causing human contamination and pose a health risk to people.  Avoid…”

The above excerpts are from Bart Sims’ article The Dangers of Polystyrene


Filed under Barbados, Consumer Issues, Environment, Health

5 responses to “Polystyrene: poisons your food, takes 500 years to decompose

  1. Goldenbead

    Some take away foods in Thailand are packaged in a banana leaf covered with greaseproof paper and secured with a rubber band. Neat little package. The paper and leaf break down and the rubber band can be reused.

  2. Peltdownman

    Now THERE’S a use for an Environmental Levy! If government is not prepared to ban their use, then levy $1.00 per container, and 25 cents per cup. Government would rake it in.

  3. Let’s think a bit deeper. We need to ask ourselves – what are the alternatives? How much more do they cost? What are their attributes relative to environmental impact?
    Further relative to Bart Sims’ article …
    1. Let’s focus on the facts. There are no scientific facts which indicate polystrene contains substances which are toxic to humans.
    2. There are no sceintific facts which indicate polystrene food containers leach toxins which pose human health risks.
    3. There are no scientific facts which indicate incinerating polystyrene releases anything which is hazardous to human health.
    4. Polystrene can, and is being successfully recycled. Two high profile examples are the cities of Los Angeles and Toronto are good examples where curbside polystyrene collection and recycling is in place today.
    Focusing on factual information, rather than unsubstantiated claims, will serve us best when addressing such issues.

  4. BFP

    Hi VoR

    We do see studies online indicating the toxcicity of polystyrene. like this:

    Health Effects

    The fact that styrene can adversely affect humans in a number of ways raises serious public health and safety questions regarding its build-up in human tissue and the root cause of this build- up. According to a Foundation for Achievements in Science and Education fact sheet, long term exposure to small quantities of styrene can cause neurotoxic (fatigue, nervousness, difficulty sleeping), hematological (low platelet and hemoglobin values), cytogenetic (chromosomal and lymphatic abnormalities), and carcinogenic effects.[1,2] In 1987, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, Lyon, France, reclassified styrene from a Groups 3 (not classifiable as to its carcinogenicity) to a Group 2B substance (possibly carcinogenic to humans).

    Although there is evidence that styrene causes cancer in animals, it has not yet been proven to cause cancer in humans. Styrene primarily exhibits its toxicity to humans as a neurotoxin by attacking the central and peripheral nervous systems. The accumulation of these highly lipid-soluble (fat-soluble) materials in the lipid-rich tissues of the brain, spinal cord, and peripheral nerves is correlated with acute or chronic functional impairment of the nervous system. [3]

    For example, women exposed to low concentrations of styrene vapors in the workplace are known to have a variety of neurotoxic and menstrual problems. A Russian study of 110 women exposed to styrene vapors at levels about 5 mg/m3 demonstrated menstrual disorders, particularly perturbations of the menstrual cycle and a hypermenorrhea (unusually heavy flow of menses during the menstrual cycle) syndrome. Styrene- exposed women often suffered from metabolic disturbances occurring during pregnancy. [4]


  5. Environmental Planner

    voice of reason you are flat out wrong do your research!