Recent Developments Encouraging For The Re-Examination Of Styrene’s Designated Status

Industry Continues To Press Styrene Issue
By Jeff Griffin, Senior Editor | June 2012, Vol. 67 No. 6
Image: Bill Abbott

For more than a year, the styrene industry and professional organizations that represent its varied interests have focused on challenging efforts to designate styrene as a “reasonably anticipated carcinogen” by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Their efforts include a lawsuit, amassing a significant amount of evidence to support the contention that styrene is not a possible cancer-causing substance, disseminating information to manufacturers and companies that make, sell and use products containing styrene to help them counter concerns about its safety, along with efforts to educate the public about the benefits of styrene.

The designation of styrene as a possible cancer-causing agent is a concern to the pipe rehabilitation industry because styrene is a primary ingredient used to manufacture the thermoset resins for cured-in-place-pipe (CIPP) sewer rehabilitation.

NASSCO (National Association of Sewer Service Companies) continues to support efforts to overturn the reasonably anticipated carcinogen designation and takes the position that styrene, as it is currently used in the CIPP process, poses no health hazard to the workers installing the CIPP or to the general public.

The lawsuit was filed by Styrene Information and Research Center (SIRC) and the Dart Container Corp. the same day -- June 2012 -- that the announcement was made by the (HHS) that its National Toxicology Program (NTP) 12th Report on Carcinogens (RoC) had designated styrene a “reasonably anticipated carcinogen.” NTP, a part of HHS, is mandated by Congress to periodically publish reports on carcinogens identifying chemicals and biological agents that could put people at risk for cancer.

Through the first six months of 2012, the litigation continues to make its way through Federal Court in Washington, DC, with filings of motions and counter motions. Both parties have petitions pending requesting a summary judgment.

Next on the docket is a hearing scheduled on Aug. 3.

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

Data

SIRC, the American Composites Manufacturers Association (ACMA) and other organizations have assembled an impressive body of research-based data to support the lawsuit’s position and for on-going educational efforts to document that styrene, properly used, does not pose a cancer risk to humans and animals.