Q:

What happens if you eat styrofoam?

A:

Quick Answer

A small amount of Styrofoam shouldn't cause any health problems, but it does contain some harmful chemicals. According to the AAFP, foreign objects usually pass through the digestive tract without requiring medical intervention.

 Know More

Full Answer

Styrofoam is a foam plastic that is made from styrene monomers. It is popular as an insulator in packaging and for food. There are hazardous chemicals in Styrofoam, including styrene and diethylhexyl adipate. When exposed to heat or acids, these chemicals can leach out of the Styrofoam in small amounts. This is partly why Styrofoam is not considered microwave-safe, as the plastic also breaks down easily. However, if used to drink or eat cool items, Styrofoam is safe.

The American Academy of Family Physicians says that most foreign objects pass easily through the digestive tract without causing problems. If a small amount of Styrofoam is accidentally eaten it probably won't harm the body. A large amount of Styrofoam may get stuck in the esophagus, stomach or the intestines. It won't be digested, potentially blocking the system up and causing problems. After an examination, the doctor may decide to remove the blockage by pulling it out or pushing it through the tight spot. This depends on where the Styrofoam is caught in the body.

Learn more about Conditions & Diseases

Related Questions

  • Q:

    Is Styrofoam biodegradable?

    A:

    While many things eventually break down after a number of years, Styrofoam is one of the few things that does not biodegrade. Tinfoil also does not biodegrade, while aluminum cans take up to 250 years to completely break down, and sanitary pads last up to 800 years.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    How do you build a Styrofoam igloo?

    A:

    To build a Styrofoam igloo, cut Styrofoam blocks in half, hollow them out, fill each block with a plastic bag full of water, glue the blocks together, stack them, and shave the outside of the upper blocks to create a dome shape. This three-hour project requires large Styrofoam blocks, a box cutter, plastic freezer bags, water, strong glue, a chef's knife and several sheets of fine-grained sandpaper.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    How do Styrofoam cups keep liquid warm?

    A:

    A Styrofoam cup keeps drinks warm because the Styrofoam offers excellent insulation, which keeps the liquid warm inside. While a Styrofoam cup can keep drinks warm, a thermos container captures heat to keep drinks hotter for longer.

    Full Answer >
  • Q:

    Why is styrofoam a good insulator?

    A:

    Styrofoam works well as an insulator because it mostly consists of air confined to small pockets. These pockets hinder the convection process from carrying heat energy away from (or to) the substance inside the container.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:

Explore