Sun­light can de­grade poly­styrene in decades

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - Times Trends -

Poly­styrene de­grades much faster than pre­vi­ously thought — break­ing down in decades or cen­turies when ex­posed to sun­light, a study has found.

Sci­en­tists had be­lieved that the pol­lut­ing ma­te­rial, widely used for food pack­ag­ing due to its light­ness and low cost, would last for thou­sands of years in the natural en­vi­ron­ment. How­ever, re­searchers us­ing sim­u­lated sun­light have now shown that poly­styrene could chem­i­cally de­grade into car­bon and car­bon diox­ide much faster.

“We’re not say­ing that plas­tic pol­lu­tion isn’t bad, just that the per­sis­tence of poly­styrene in the en­vi­ron­ment may be shorter and likely more com­pli­cated than we pre­vi­ously un­der­stood,” said lead re­searcher Collin Ward, a ma­rine chemist at Woods Hole Oceano­graphic In­sti­tu­tion in Fal­mouth, Mas­sachusetts.

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