Safety Concerns over Polystyrene explained.

Styrene and Polystyrene, which is safe?

Thanks to the 2011 and 2016 reports from US National Toxicology Program, Styrene has been labelled carcinogenic, based on limited human and animal research. What’s carcinogenic? In simple terms….a cancer causing toxic substance. Many consumers have been frightened off using Polystyrene because it contains Styrene but the two substances are NOT the same. But how many of us have confused Styrene with Polystyrene and simply stopped purchasing goods packed in polystyrene...

What makes Styrene a carcinogenic material?
Proving Polystyrene is safe to use.
Before we all start running for the hills and checking our pulses, we need to establish some solid facts about the differences between Styrene and Polystyrene. First, Styrene poses no threat to consumers once it has been polymerised into Polystyrene. It’s pure form is a different matter, as the National Toxicology Program reveals. Research suggests that there is an increased risk of cancer when inhaled or ingested in the plastics or rubber production industries..

Fact: Styrene is a raw material known as a Monomer.
Fact: Styrene is a clear, yellowish liquid.
Fact: Styrene is used in the production of polystyrene.

Polystyrene was first developed back in the 1940’s and has proven popular due to its versatility, cheapness and disposability. It has been used for more than 50 years without safety assessments being called into question.

Fact: Polystyrene is an inert polymer.
Fact: Polystyrenes’ physical properties are dependent on processing, molecular mass distribution and additives.
Fact: Polystyrene is used for food packaging, toys, electrical insulation, bottle caps, etc.

Polystyrene is not carcinogenic and several different agencies are prepared to testify to that: US Food and Drug Administration and the European Commission / European Food Safety Authority. Polystyrene is an inert solid plastic and as the director of the NTP (National Toxicology Program) states: “In finished products, certainly styrene is not an issue”.

Polystyrene is used in many different industries, the food industry being the most obvious. It is a safe and hygienic choice and because of its insulation properties can help to maintain food temperatures and keep food fresh for longer. In the packaging industry it is used as void fill, protective cushioning for electrical components and toys. It may not be the most environmentally friendly choice for packaging, but it’s cheapness and effectiveness can not be denied.

So, the next time you choose a product or change your packaging, don’t even stop to question the safety of Polystyrene….it will not harm you.

Allpack® have a polymer division that can support your business in choosing the correct packaging for your product. We can custom make what you need in small or large volumes and even produce samples to guarantee you are entirely happy with your bespoke packaging. We will encourage you to make informed decisions about the materials you use and can always offer cost-effective alternatives. We stock a complex range of ready made transit packaging for any industry or application and can promise you well informed sales staff who are knowledgeable about the products and services we offer.

If you are considering a change to your packaging or even have a new product range, talking to an allpack® expert can set you on the right track.

Call: 01922 472 400

Book a no-obligation consultation today.

Source:  ‘Styrene is not Polystyrene’: Anne Marie Mohan, 29 April 2016.