WASHINGTON -– Fifty-nine Democrats are rallying once again to get House leadership to toss the polystyrene packaging used in congressional cafeterias. The appeal comes as the District of Columbia is poised to phase out foam packaging, and as scientists have warned of potential health risks posed by the chemical used in their production.
As The Huffington Post reported earlier this week, the House of Representatives so far shows no sign of ditching packaging made of polystyrene, often referred to improperly as Styrofoam. ("Styrofoam" is actually the trademarked name for a Dow Chemical Company foam product used in construction and crafts, but not for food packaging.)
Democrats have griped about the reversal ever since. But this summer, their campaign gained steam when the District of Columbia passed a law requiring restaurants and food trucks to get rid of polystyrene packaging by January 2016. The National Academy of Sciences also upheld a decision this summer that added styrene to the list of chemicals "reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen."
This has reinvigorated calls from House Democrats to get rid of the foam. "For more than three years, House members and staff, as well as constituents and visitors to the Hill who eat in our cafeteria, have needlessly been exposed to this dangerous chemical," wrote the group of Democrats, led by Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), in a letter to Republican leadership Thursday. "We have also been contributing to the problem of litter in the District of Columbia. We hope you will reconsider the use of polystyrene foam in our cafeteria."
This article was updated after publication to note that "Styrofoam" is a brand name specific to a type of polystyrene product produced by Dow Chemical Company.