Efforts Continue To Mitigate Styrene Issue

By Jeff Griffin, Senior Editor | August 2011, Vol. 66 No. 8

Efforts to block the designation of styrene as a possible cancer-causing agent are proceeding on several fronts while organizations who use styrene in the manufacture of their products consider short- and long-term effects should they ultimately be forced to find a substitute for styrene.

At issue is the announcement on June 10 by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that added styrene to the latest HHS National Toxicology Program (NTP) Report on Carcinogens (RoC) identifying chemicals and biological agents that potentially put people at risk for cancer. The report categorized styrene as a “reasonably anticipated carcinogen,” meaning that the substance has not been found to cause cancer, but there is reason to believe that it might cause cancer.

Styrene is a primary ingredient used to manufacture the thermoset resins used in cured-in-place-pipe (CIPP) sewer rehabilitation.

NASSCO (National Association of Sewer Service Companies) represents the interests of the sewer rehabilitation industry. NASSCO supports the efforts of the Styrene Information and Research Center (SIRC) which has filed a lawsuit challenging the designation of styrene as a possible carcinogen, along with other trade associations representing a host of industries that use styrene in the manufacturer of consumer, commercial and industrial products.

The primary issue raised by those opposing the designation is that the science behind the decision to name styrene a possible carcinogen is flawed and that there is, in fact, no proven link between styrene and cancer in humans and animals.

“It is important to stress that the ‘reasonably anticipated carcinogen’ category requires no proof that the substance is dangerous at any concentration higher than normal industry defined threshold levels,” said Ted DeBoda, P.E., NASSCO executive director. “The use of styrenated resins in the CIPP rehabilitation industry continues to employee thousands and provide a safe, valuable infrastructure rehabilitation tool for municipalities throughout the country,” he explained.

At press time:

• SIRC’s lawsuit is proceeding in U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia;
• Industry associations are keeping their members advised of efforts to overturn the styrene/carcinogen designation;
• Advocacy efforts include discussion to involve Congress in the disputed RoC designation; and
• Investigation continues as to how the RoC styrene designation could affect hazardous material labeling.

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