Plastics are materials that consist of single styrene molecules bonded together to form long chains, so-called “polymers”. They are produced in chemical reactors. Because of their properties, these plastics can be extruded, moulded, or pressed into various objects. One of the most commonly used plastics is polystyrene, which is economical and lightweight. Polystyrene is made by the controlled linking of single styrene molecules. Nanoscale polystyrene particles can be synthesized in the laboratory. They are called primary polystyrene nanoparticles. Nanoscale polystyrene particles produced from polystyrene waste through degradation and abrasion, on the other hand, are called secondary polystyrene nanoparticles.
How can I come into contact with this material?
Since polystyrene is used in large quantities in everyday objects such as such as yoghurt containers, plastic tableware or as packaging, it is found as waste in the environment. However, an assessment of how much polystyrene particles come into contact with humans has not yet been carried out. Research is currently being conducted on this topic (2021).
Is there any risk from this material to humans and the environment?
Pure polystyrene nanoparticles are considered to be non-toxic and of low concern to the organism. In research, they are mostly used as non-toxic reference or model particles for in vitro or in vivo studies.
Humans and the environment are in constant contact with polystyrene. In its meso or micro form, it is of particular concern for aquatic life, but polystyrene does not play a special role in human health. Research on this topic is currently being carried out.
By the way
Polystyrene products can be recognized by the imprint 6 in a triangular arrow frame and the abbreviation PS underneath.