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Subject: Styrofoam


From: Karen Motylewski <nedcc>
Date: Thursday, June 17, 1993
Irving Sax, "Dangerous Properties of Industrial Materials" says about
styrene (phenyl ethylene, the outgassing product of styrofoam): "...can
cause irritation, violent itching of the eyes...sever hyman eye
injuries. Its toxic effects are usually transient and result in
irritation and possible narcosis.  it is not considered a very toxic
material because under ordinary conditions it does not vaporize
sufficiently to reach concentration that can kill animals, such as rats
and guinea pigs, in a few minutes...1,300 ppm was the highest amount
...found to cause no serious systemic disturbances in 8 hours."  Chronic
exposure tests in rats showed eye and nasal irritation and animals
became "unkempt."

Heat, as from sun warming, will accelerate outgassing.

I'm not knowledgeable about industrial hygiene, but this doesn't sound
good to me, and would be worse if the library has poor air circulation
and limited replacement air (a common problem in library design).  There
is a potential for accelerated hydrolysis of paper from the by-products
of styrofoam deterioration.

For more on health concerns, the best source I know is Monona Rossol,
founder of Arts, Crafts, and Theatre Safety, now in private practice in
New York:  212-777-0062.

Karen Motylewski
Northeast Document Conservation Center

                   Conservation DistList Instance 7:5
                  Distributed: Saturday, June 19, 1993
                        Message Id: cdl-7-5-004
Received on Thursday, 17 June, 1993

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