Use of styrofoam containers for vegetables.

geoshimomura(11 HI)December 15, 2005

Any information on the possible health hazard risk of using styrofoam containers i.e. those used to ship frozen crabs, fish etc. Are there any risk of dangerous chemical reaction or leakage into the soil and vegetable after prolong contact with soil,water, chemicals from fertilizer? Recent news release on dangers of plastic or styrofoam containers releasing dangerous chemicals when heating food in such containers in microwave ovens has me worried. Also any negative thoughts on the practicality on use of such containers? Thanks.

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sleeplessinftwayne(z4-5 IND)

Hey there. Are you saying you want to grow vegies in styrofoam containers? I seriously doubt there are any dangers associated with that. I wouldn't use them to serve fresh food unless they were lined with something but as for growing plants they are fine. Eventually UV will cause a breakdown of the cohesion between the beads and they will start to scatter. If they do you can always paint the styrofoam with an outdoor paint. I think it a fine way to use such containers. Make sure they have drainage holes.
Styrofoam in a microwave is a no no. It twists and shrinks and you wind up with trash or a weird sculpture and a very smelly kitchen where the fumes could indeed make you sick. You're not supposed to burn styrofoam anyway. I've never seen anything styrofoam designed for use in a microwave. As for other plastics, there are some that are absolutely safe and others that just might be a problem. They are sorting that out now and the solution to that problem is to use microwave safe glass or ceramic until they find out for sure. In any case, unless you are using your microwave with the bad plastic 24 hours a day I don't think there is enough to worry about in a well ventilated kitchen. I sterilize my seed starting soil in a microwave in tupperware and Glad containers and plastic bags. Sandy

    Bookmark   December 17, 2005 at 6:09AM
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A lot of soil mixes use styrofoam bits as a lightweight aeration additive. Hopefully these manufacturers have already researched the subject of toxicity. Where i live in Taiwan, tens of thousands of people use styrofoam containers to grow food. They often line the streets on the outside of apartments where people don't have access to the ground for gardening. Often seen on rooftops as well, where their insulation properties come into play to keep the soil from heating up and drying out.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2006 at 4:21AM
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peterls(N Yorks, UK)

Brilliant idea geoshimomura. As I shop in a supermarket I had not seen these boxes. But over Christmas I stayed with my sister and saw them in her local greengrocer. My sister has instructions to accumulate as many as she can.

The fumes from burning polystyrene are known to be poisonous. But I am sure that cold polystyrene is not. Most disposable cups for hot and cold drinks are polystyrene and have been well tested. Styrafoam is the same material but in a expanded form.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2006 at 7:03PM
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No health risk from this.

My mom has been growing herbs on her deck in St Louis using large planters (~24" x 24" x 18"). These planters are look like the expensive shaped terracotta pots with fruit and leaves carved in relief on the sides but are made of styro. Unless you are rather close to the pot or touch it they are indistinguishable from the clay or plastic.

On a side note, it is amazing how big bazil gets when not root bound. Over 24 inches tall with a woody stem about 1" in diameter.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2006 at 10:18PM
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fliptx(Houston 9)

I picked up some styrofoam coolers at Home Depot today for 50cents each. I'm not sure what size they are but I'd guess they're big enough for a patio tomato or several herbs, etc. I'm going to paint them with some exterior paint in a light yellow.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2006 at 3:33PM
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We live in a mobile home park and the property used to be a gravel pit. The ground is sand/clay/rocks. NO where to plant. We do not have the money right now to build a raised vege garden. My local dollar store carries styrofoam coolers that are 28 qt. (4 qts in a gallon = 7 gallons). A lot of people have suggested at least 5 gallons for containers. I will be planting roma, cherry, sandwich tomatoes (Ace 55 - they are determinate), and green peppers. I want to plant 2 plants per container.

Will these work okay? After this season, I plan to recycling the soil from the coolers for my raised beds.

Any suggestions, downfalls, etc??

    Bookmark   June 26, 2007 at 10:46AM
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