What Happens if Styrofoam Is Burned?

Written by fran henry
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What Happens if Styrofoam Is Burned?
Styrafoam is the formal name of polystyrene foam, commonly used for disposable cups. (coffee cup image by Leticia Wilson from Fotolia.com)

Styrofoam, also known as polystyrene foam, is an environmental nightmare, nearly non-biodegradable and seldom recycled. Even when it is recycled, it's usually made into one-use products, like coffee cups at fast food restaurants. Its use has been banned in more than 22 California coastal towns, according to Earth 911, an environmental website. Burning styrofoam is a dangerous enterprise.

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Benzene Gas

Benzene, a highly carcinogenic substance, is the prime ingredient in styrofoam. Benzene gas is released by burning styrofoam.

Styrene Gas

Burning polystyrene foam releases toxic styrene gas, which is readily absorbed through the skin, respiratory system and gastrointestinal tract and can cause deep unconsciousness and death. Also, the vapour can damage the eyes and mucous membranes.

Toxic Soot

Styrene gas releases a great deal of soot when polystyrene foam is burnt. The soot is dangerous to the respiratory system when inhaled.

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