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JAMA Dermatology a Century Ago
February 2013

Alcoholic Aromatic Substances Suspended in Foaming Mixtures for Local Therapeutic Purposes.

Author Affiliations
 

SECTION EDITOR: MARK BERNHARDT, MD

JAMA Dermatol. 2013;149(2):146. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2013.957

GALIMBERTI, p. 128.

THE JOURNAL OF CUTANEOUS DISEASES VOL. XXXI FEBRUARY, 1913 NO. 2

J Cutan Dis.

1913;31(2):134.

The author discovered that foaming substances seemed to favorably influence the course of superficial cutaneous lesions.

In 1839, a German chemist, Eduard Simon, isolated a substance from natural storax resin he called styrol oxide. He did not realize what he had discovered. Almost a century later, another German chemist, Herman Staudinger, proved that Simon's product was a plastic polymer composed of a long strand of styrene molecules. Thus was styrol renamed polystyrene and Staudinger awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry. Polystyrene's most famous incarnation is Styrofoam (Dow Chemical Company), and Styrofoam's most ubiquitous form is foam cups. First patented in 1970, Styrofoam cups were light and could keep hots hot and colds cold. Their manufacture seemed so cheap that Styrofoam soon became the container of choice for our fast-food disposable society. Over time consumers and industry realized there was a huge hidden cost to Styrofoam: its very indestructibility was making it an increasingly large component of our overtaxed landfills. After a 1986 US Environmental Protection Agency warning of the ecological burden of Styrofoam, there was finally a serious effort to lessen its impact on the environment. A landmark in America's attitude towards Styrofoam occurred in 1990, when McDonald's replaced its Styrofoam boxes with ones made from recycled paper.

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