Packaging foam can be a great asset to manufacturers and consumers alike. Its chemical makeup provides versatility and functionality. That being said, is it safe? Those with children understand how capable they are of getting into things. Any and everything can be a hazard. Packing foam in particular can present long-term health effects in addition to immediate hazard. Parents should be aware of the risks plastic materials, like packing foam, present to ensure their children are safe.
Packing foam is made from polystyrene. This synthetic polymer has found numerous uses since it’s discovery in 1839. It can be made to be in a rigid or soft form, further expanding its uses. It’s regularly utilized in packaging material. Everything from CD cases to foam filler for bean bags and cushions are made from this material.
From a physical standpoint, polystyrene packing foams can cause choking hazards with small children. Packaging peanuts and bean bag fillers have been notoriously dangerous. In fact, a manufacturer recently recalled 2.2 million bean bags due to the death of two children. While parents should always be watchful of their child, it’s not uncommon for toddlers to stick objects into their mouth. Bean bag fillers are soft and small in size, making it an easy target for children. It gets lodged in their throats, blocking the airway and causing potential death.
Chemically, there have been years of research to determine the safety of propylene materials. Because it’s so widely used, children and adults alike often digest trace amounts from its direct contact with food. Polystyrene will commonly migrate into the food, which is then ingested and stored in body fat. This can ultimately lead to a number of issues. It’s generally believed that the source of polystyrene, monomer styrene, is a cancer agent. Higher levels of the substance have been found to lead to lymphatic and hematopoietic cancer. Parents should be cautious about exposing food to the material, instead using alternative materials for storage.
With polystyrene materials being so prevalent in the consumer world, it shows no signs of declining in popularity. Avoiding the material completely can prove to be a daunting task. Instead, parents should be aware of how their children come into contact with the material to ensure their safety. Avoiding contamination with food and keeping a watchful eye on smaller pieces can make all the difference.Read More