Plastic may be degraded into micro-particles < 5000 nm in diameter, and further into nanoparticles (NPs) < 100 nm in diameter. NPs have been detected in air, soil, water and sludge. One of the most commonly used plastics is polystyrene (PS) – a product of polymerization of styrene monomers. It is used for the production of styrofoam and other products like toys, CDs and cup covers.

What does polystyrene look like?
Polystyrene can be solid or foam. General purpose polystyrene is transparent, hard and fragile. It is a cheap resin per unit weight. Polystyrene is solid (glassy) at room temperature, but will flow if heated to a glass transition temperature above about 100 °C.

How to synthesize polystyrene?
PS is an aromatic polymer formed as a result of polymerization of styrene monomers. Styrene (vinylbenzene) is produced from ethylene and benzene. Massive production of PS is carried out by catalytic dehydrogenation of ethylbenzene that leads to formation of styrene monomers. PS is a thermoplastic polymer characterized by high translucency, durability and may be easily dyed.

Are polystyrene nanoparticles toxic?
In vivo and in vitro studies have suggested that polystyrene nanoparticles (PS-NPs) may penetrate organisms through several routes i.e. skin, respiratory and digestive tracts. They can be deposited in living organisms and accumulate further along the food chain. NPs are surrounded by “protein corona” that allows them penetrating cellular membranes and interacting with cellular structures. Depending on the cell type, NPs may be transported through pinocytosis, phagocytosis, or be transported passively. Currently there are no studies that would indicate a carcinogenic potential of PS-NPs. On the other hand, the PS monomer (styrene) was classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) as a potentially carcinogenic substance (carcinogenicity class B2).

Polystyrene nanoparticles for life science research?
Polystyrene Particles have been found to have numerous applications in scientific research, diagnostics, electronics, pharmaceuticals, and nanotechnology, such as purification and separation, and lateral flow detection. Functionalized polystyrene nanoparticles and polystyrene particles can be used in a variety of applications, such as drug delivery materials, bioimaging, markers, and immunoassays. With excellent stability, high binding capacity and ultra-high specificity (low background), polystyrene latex particles have been widely verified in academic and industrial scale immunoturbidimetric assays. Polystyrene particles provide a flexible platform for diagnostic and bio-separation applications.

To purchase polystyrene nanoparticles for lab uses?
Find your polystyrene nanoparticles at CD Bioparticles! CD Bioparticles has developed a large selection of polystyrene micro- and nanoparticles, which are available in diameters ranging from 15 nm to 750 µm, and exhibit excellent size uniformity. They are also available with plain polystyrene particles for protein adsorption, and have been utilized in a range of diagnostic tests and assays, and also find extensive use as standards for instrument set-up and calibration. CD Bioparticles offers various Colored Polystyrene Particles and Fluorescent Polystyrene Particles that are now ready for your online purchase.

Author's Bio: 

CD Bioparticles is a leading manufacturer and supplier of various nanoparticles, microparticles and their coatings for R&D and commercialization in a wide variety of application areas including in-vitro diagnostics, biochemistry, cellular analysis, cell separation, immunoassay.