# Polysytrene factories and hypothetical health concerns [closed]

Background/Research so far

I'm actually not much of a chemist at all; but I'm doing research for a book I'm writing.

The events of the story begin from a factory that produces/supplies jewel cases for cheap CDs. This factory then pollutes the city's water by reckless dumping. Basically I'm a psychopath and I want to give my city's citizens harmful affects that are revealed after 15 years. Maybe their livers melt or something.

I learned that these jewel cases are made from a plastic called polystyrene.

From this website, I found this:

Polystyrene (PS, #6): styrene, ethylbenzene, benzene, ethylene, carbon tetrachloride, polyvinyl alcohol, antimony oxide, and tert-butyl hydroperoxide, bensoquinone

I thought maybe the pollution could be caused by leftover ingredients for the plastic used in the process.

I then examined carbon tetracholoride ($\ce{CCl4}$). This seems really harmful and may cause long term damage if accidentally ingested, especially to the liver. So this sounded exactly what I am looking for. However, I'm not sure how realistic/true this is because further research showed that $\ce{CCl4}$ is, in fact, so harmful that it's rarely used anymore. So it seems like it may be unrealistic to use in the story, because maybe the above article is inaccurate and $\ce{CCl4}$ is not that prevalent.

Benzene also is an obvious one, but it seems to mostly cause blood cancer (leukemia) through ingestion. For reasons that occur later in the story, isn't really isn't going to work. I was kind of looking for a specific organ failure/problems/cancer and not those that effect blood and/or skin.

Ethylene also looks promising because it's so close to ethylene gylcol, and ethylene glycol would really mess people up (it is my understanding is that it's basically antifreeze). But further research indicates that ethylene isn't very harmful at all.

I also thought of cleaning agents for polystyrene instead of actual ingredients. And it sounds like $\ce{CCl4}$ comes into play again because it's used as a "dry solvent," according to Wikipedia in "Historical Uses".

Question

I'm starting to fall short in research and I want my story to be as facutal as possible. So I'm wondering which chemicals would be the most realistic in terms of use in the practical manufacture of polystyrene that could be dumped a really cause problems health-wise for a city.