Polystyrene can cause cancer:CAP
  - Mind Your Own Health series

GEORGE TOWN: The use of Polystyrene in food containers should be banned because of its negative health and environmental effects, said the Consumers Association of Penang (CAP).

CAP president S.M. Mohamed Idris said studies have shown that polystrene, which is a cancer-causing agent.

"In Malaysia, polystrene foam containers are commonly used by hawkers for takeaways while polystyrene cups, bowls, plates, forks and spoons are also used in food courts and restaurants," he said at a press conference.

He said that when hot and oily food is stored in these containers, styrene leaches into the food.

"Polystrene packaging normally contained some residual styrene because the manufacturing process is not 100% efficient," he said.

Mohamed Idris said chemicals from polystyrene can be absorbed by food whether the container is new or old because of heat, sun, wear and tear.

"The styrene which leaches into food will end up in the body and will eventually affect the health," he said.

Styrene is classified by the World Health Organisatin's International Agency for Research on Cancer as a Group 2B carcinogen, which means it is a possible human carcinogen.

"Styrene is also a mutagen, which may carry a cancer risk and also potentially cause reproductive damage," he said.

He said studies have shown that exposure to small quantities of styrene can cause low red blood cell count and women exposed to low concentration of styrene vapours in the workplace have a variety of menstrual disorders.

"The production of polystyrene involves the use of benzene, which is a known human carcinogen that has been linked to leukaemia," Mohamed Idris said.

He said cancer is the second biggest killer in Malaysia after road accidents, with an estimated 40,000 new cases detected in the country each year.

"Eliminating styrene in the diet of Malaysians will help reduce cancer risks," he said.

Source: theSun - Telling it as it is

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