Styrene, Benzene and Formaldehyde
Links that are mainly from government agencies.

Because of my exposure to Styrofoam food containers and the health risks I learned from these government sites I decided to do an experiment to see just how much Styrene and Benzene was being leeched into the air and into our food from these Styrofoam food containers.

So I built a 4' by 4' by 8' box and half filled it with Styrofoam food containers witch I bought at Ginsberg's Institutional Foods Inc. on Rt 66 in Hudson NY (These are the same Styrofoam food trays that restaurants and schools use). I left these trays in the box for two days because the Styrofoam food containers I hauled (for WR Grace) were in the trailer for an average of two days.

I then used the test equipment I received from Galson Laboratories. I did a TWO part test that tested for both Benzene and Styrene.

Day two was overcast and the temperature in the box was 88 degrees F. The results can be viewed from this link.

Day three, the sun was out shining on the box and the temperature got to 116.4 inside the box and the results can be viewed from this link.

I made a documentary of this experiment which can be viewed in Quicktime in the near future.

Styrofoam is part of the polystyrene family.

In all studies conducted by the government these points are common:

  • Polystyrene food containers cause Styrene Poisoning
  • The Chemical Styrene is being used to flavor foods like ice-cream, candy and baked goods.
  • Tobacco products or the smoke from tobacco products cause Styrene Poisoning

The affects of styrene poisoning are:

  • Acute (short-term) exposure to styrene in humans results in mucous membrane and eye irritation, and gastrointestinal effects.
  • Chronic (long-term) exposure to styrene in humans results in effects on the central nervous system (CNS), such as headache, fatigue, weakness, and depression; peripheral neuropathy; and minor effects on some kidney enzyme functions and on the blood.

How might I be exposed to styrene?

  • Breathing indoor air that is contaminated with styrene vapors from building materials, consumer products, and tobacco smoke.
  • Breathing contaminated workplace air.
  • Drinking contaminated water.
  • Living near industrial facilities or hazardous waste sites.
  • Smoking cigarettes or eating a lot of food packaged in polystyrene containers.

Although, these government studies say there is no HUMAN studies done; I found this very lengthily study done by NIOSH Criteria Documents Exposure to Styrene.

If you have visited the government links provided; here are two questions to ask your self and your representatives:

Should your family be eating or drinking from Styrofoam?

Do you think it should be taken off the market as food packaging?


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Other alternatives to polystrene
Places polystrene has been Banned

Questions or comments? Email Charles Lake