Degradation :

Polystyrene is very chemically inert, being resistant to acids and bases but is easily dissolved by d-limonene. Because of its resilience and inertness, it is used to fabricate many stuffs of commerce. It is attacked by many organic solvents, which dissolve the polymer. Foamed polystyrene is used for packing chemicals.

Like all organic compounds, polystyrene burns to give carbon dioxide and water vapor. Polystyrene, being an aromatic hydrocarbon, normally combusts incompletely as indicated by the sooty flame.

Biodegradation :

Methanogenic consortia have been shown to decline styrene as sole carbon source (Grbić-Galić et al. 1990). In this case styrene degraded to a range of organic intermediates and carbon dioxide. Taking the carbon dioxide figures as a representation of the amount of styrene that had completely degraded to gas as is of interest here, rates of styrene degradation ranged start from 0.14 to 0.4 a -1. This is an order of magnitude faster than the most quick rate of polystyrene degradation identified (Kaplan et al. 1979, Sielicki et al. 1978). It is consistent with the T2GGM polystyrene degradation model (Quintessa and Geofirma 2011b), which considers the rate-limiting step for polystyrene degradation to be the breakup of polystyrene, rather than the degradation of styrene.