Toxic Styrofoam seas

Decomposing Styrofoam releasing harmful chemicals into world’s oceans

Decomposing Styrofoam releasing unhealthful chemicals into the planet’s oceans is a major cause for concern, a group of scientists warns.

After completing a 10-year study in 21 countries and regions of the world, researchers from Japan and South Korea have found that styrene oligomers—which can act as endocrine disruptors, inhibiting brain and genital development—are released by discarded Styrofoam as it starts to decompose, according to Japanese newspaper The Asahi Shimbun. And, contrary to the belief of some that Styrofoam does not decompose below 100 degrees, it does indeed decompose at lower temperatures.

“It has been believed that plastic products do not decompose at normal temperatures, but in fact they are decomposing and releasing chemicals into the environment,” said Katsuhiko Saido, one of the researchers.

The largest amount of styrene oligomers detected in seawater came from the state of Washington, at 30.4 parts per billion.