Health + Infertility: Polystyrene
It’s been awhile since I have shared an environment and health post, but I’m continuing my series about today and sharing about polystyrene. If you have missed the prior posts you can read them here:
- Part One: BPA
- Part Two: Triclosan
- Part Three: Sodium Laureth Sulfate
- Part Four: Fragrance
- Part Five: High Fructose Corn Syrup
- Part Six: Parabens
Polystyrene is a petroleum plastic made from styrene monomer. The more common name you would recognize is Styrofoam and you can identify it by the #6 stamped on products. It’s used extensively in the manufacture of plastics, rubber, and resins including packing peanuts, CD covers, containers, disposable cutlery, bottles, etc. Because it’s light-weight and well insulated, it’s widely used, which causes a problem.
Styrofoam is not only hazardous to the environment which I won’t have time to touch on in this post, but it causes health problems too. Polystyrene raises a major concern for those who use Styrofoam, but even more so for those who work in the industry. There have been links to not only health problems, but chronic exposure leads to problems with the central nervous system which can cause depression, headaches, etc.
I constantly see people at work pouring coffee or heating up a drink in their Styrofoam cup or eating off a Styrofoam plate, which is what led me to start researching. When heated, especially in the microwave, the toxic chemicals from the Styrofoam leak out into the food or drink which is absorbed by our bodies. Along with all the chemicals I have discussed on prior posts, when Styrofoam is absorbed by the body, it too mimics estrogen. It can contribute to thyroid problems, menstrual irregularities, and other hormone-related problems including infertility. There have been links to breast cancer and prostate cancer. The estrogenicity of polystyrene is thought to be comparable to that of BPA which was discussed here.
Whenever you bring home leftovers from a restaurant, always transfer to glass containers. Whatever you do, don’t ever heat food or drinks on or in anything made out of Styrofoam. I realize you can’t always avoid every chemical I have discussed, but eliminating it when possible is recommended. A good alternative to avoiding BPA and Polystyrene is to ALWAYS use glass! I don’t leave home without my glass water bottle which you can find here.
Are you aware of how all these chemicals can be so harmful to your health and the environment around you? Do you use Styrofoam products? If you want to learn more about the environmental or health effects of using polystyrene there are an endless amount of articles including lots of research on the internet.