Fifty-nine House Democrats are pushing Republican leaders to ban polystyrene foam food containers from House cafeterias.
In a letter sent to House leaders Thursday, the lawmakers said the District of Columbia’s ban on polystyrene containers — also known by the brand name Styrofoam — shows “it is past time for Congress to do the same.”
Capitol Hill is not obligated to follow D.C.’s ban.
“Since our last letter in 2011, we remain concerned about the potential health and environmental effects of your current choice to use polystyrene foam products in the House of Representatives cafeterias,” wrote the Democrats, led by Reps. Henry Waxman (Calif.) and Earl Blumenauer (Ore.), two of the most outspoken environmentalists in the House.
The members also cited a July report from the National Academy of Sciences that supported putting polystyrene on a list of possible human carcinogens.
In people with occupational exposure to polystyrene, the report found increased instances of lymphoid, pancreatic and esophageal cancers, the Democrats said.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) had instructed House cafeterias to avoid polystyrene when she was the Speaker. But Republicans overturned the ban in 2011 when they took control, citing lower costs and increased effectiveness of the material.
The Senate, controlled by Democrats, does not use polystyrene.