POV: Styrofoam ban is a good thing

The writer is from the Albany County Majority Office.

Many people are not aware of the harmful effects of Polystyrene. This article aims to highlight some of the dangers and misconceptions, both to our health and to the environment.

The Styrofoam Ban recently signed into legislation that was sponsored by Albany County Legislator Doug Bullock, backed by the Democratic Majority and received massive support from the community is gaining a lot of mixed reviews due to inaccurate information. Local Law “A” is good legislation, and some clarification needs to be set forth for a better understanding of what is actually happening.

Local Law “A” will begin to be enforced on July 1, 2014 and the only “chain restaurants” that will need to find a substitution for styrofoam are places that have 15 or more locations nationwide. Local Law “A” was not designed to hurt any businesses. The places that are being targeted can absolutely afford to make this transition, and then gradually other local small businesses will follow in their footsteps.

The National Institute of Health reports that polystyrene is reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen based on limited evidence of carcinogenicity from studies in humans, sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity from studies in experimental animals and supporting data on mechanisms of carcinogenesis. When you use polystyrene products (for example: styrofoam cups and containers), you take the risk of ingesting hazardous carcinogens and neurotoxins. Hot foods and liquids actually start a partial breakdown of the styrofoam, causing some toxins to be absorbed into our bloodstream and tissue.

The Albany County Board of Health has committed to enforcing the law, had no member opposed to Local Law “A” when voting and supports the beneficial impact it will present to our environment.
Styrofoam is difficult to recycle, it does not decompose easily and when comparing the volume and weight of styrofoam in our local landfill, it’s two completely different concepts. Styrofoam weighs close to nothing, so when looking at the overall percentage of styrofoam in landfills by weight, that number is deceiving. Whereas when you look at it by volume, it takes up over one third of the total landfill. 

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