O.C. Answer Man: Why is Styrofoam a sore subject in Aliso Viejo?

The City of Aliso Viejo was set to ban polystyrene (Styrofoam) cups and food packaging in early 2004 after learning it was manufactured using dihydrogen monoxide. A paralegal working for the city determined that this chemical could “threaten human safety and health” because it’s lethal if inhaled, is a key ingredient in acid rain, and can cause burns when in gas form. Of course, dihydrogen monoxide is water. Sheepish city leaders had fallen victim to a practical joke propagated by computer science professor Tom Way of Villanova University. Way’s satirical dhmo.org website has duped eco-worrywarts since the 1990s. Although the error was caught, other environmental concerns led the city to ban Styrofoam at city facilities and special events anyway. Feel safer?

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