Polystyrene or Styrofoam cups can be harmful to your health!

One of my readers kmcgra commented that
I have heard that the foam can release chemicals and by-products into the drink when it is heated. Do not know if it is true though.

on my previous post about the taste of coffee being altered when contained in a plastic cup.
After doing some homework (surfing online and lots of reading), I came across several studies about Polystyrene or Styrofoam (which is the popular brand name) which I will list at the end of this post. However, there seems to be no conclusive answer to whether the chemicals from Polystyrene cups or containers do indeed leech into the beverages or hot soup. There are two sides to this camp.
Couple of studies indicated that when hot beverages are contained in Polystyrene cups, the heat actually causes the leeching of Styrene (chemical into your beverage). This is all right to consume at low levels (0.025%) and it is present in a lot of food we eat. But if you drink 3 to 4 cups a day, you will get a cup's worth of Styrene in your body after 3 years. The Styrene migration also depends on the fat content of the beverage; the higher the fat content, the higher the level of Styrene leeching. Dear old Alcohol and Acids will increase the level of Styrene leeching too. Well..Styrene is not an innocent chemical too. It plays with your hormones once in your body. The potential risk of developing Thyroid problems or even Breast Cancer.
Moreover, we have not even spoken about the environmental effects of these disposable containers which can release 90 harmful chemicals into the atmosphere when burnt. Recycling them may seem like an option but remember the Styrene migration level increases as washing the containers will cause the plastic to break down.
On the other hand, the Styrene authorities (as I would call them as they are all out to stump the myths about Polystyrene) have suggested that Polystyrene and Styrene are not the same. Being "Poly", Styrene does not leech from containers as easily as we thought. The heat from the beverages can simply never get high enough to cause the melting of the plastic. In addition, the sweet Styrene is not all harmful as it occurs naturally at low levels in fruits and vegetables. It is classified as a weak toxin and a
possible human carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC)

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) described Styrene as "a suspected carcinogen" and "a suspected toxin to the gastrointestinal, kidney, and respiratory systems, among others

Here are the articles against the use of Polystyrene:
Styrofoam Cups -Clouds in your coffee

What is Styrofoam and why can't we recycle it?

I have chanced upon another article about Plastic bottles for your reading:
Bottle Bunk

Presenting the other side of the story to you:
Answers to common questions about Styrene

I don't really know which side of the story to believe. However, the environmental effects of our disposable culture is evident everywhere. I will cut down my use of Polystyrene for the sake of our dear Gaia. I've presented you with all the possible answers, you decide your stand.


happy said...

thanks for dropping by my site. :)

SheR. said...

You're welcomed! Thanks for leaving a comment here too! :D

Anonymous said...

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Bonne continuation
Nicolaseo, Rien de mieux que le referencement naturel.