Styrene Designation Disputed By Industry

Potential Impacts, If Any, Weighed By Market
By Jeff Griffin, Senior Editor | July 2011, Vol. 66 No. 7

The sanitary sewer rehabilitation industry -- especially organizations involved in cured-in-place-pipe (CIPP) lining -- are evaluating potential ramifications, if any, of the designation last month of styrene as a “reasonably anticipated carcinogen.”

On June 10, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) added styrene and seven other substances to its latest Report on Carcinogens (RoC) which the department says is a science-based document that identifies chemicals and biological agents that put people at risk for cancer.

The reasonably anticipated carcinogen designation does not mean that styrene has been found to cause cancer, but that it is “reasonable” to think that it may put people at risk for cancer. That alone, many fear, may severely constrain the use of styrene.

Styrene is a primary ingredient used to manufacture the thermoset resins used in cured-in-place-pipe sewer rehabilitation. On a wider scale, styrene is a synthetic chemical used worldwide in the manufacture of products such as rubber, plastic, insulation, fiberglass, pipes, automobile parts, and carpet backing.

Exposure to styrene can occur by breathing indoor air that has styrene vapors from building materials, tobacco smoke and from other everyday products. The HHS designation ultimately could impact hundreds of consumer products ranging from ubiquitous styrofoam cups and take-out food containers to sophisticated sports equipment.

Condemnations
The designation was immediately condemned by organizations representing industries using styrene.

NASSCO (National Association of Sewer Service Companies) has opposed the designation of styrene as a reasonably anticipate carcinogen for lack of solid evidence linking styrene with cancer in humans or animals.

Now that the designation has been made, NASSCO Executive Director Ted DeBoda said the industry should avoid unfounded concerns that the styrene classification would adversely affect businesses.

“For now,” said DeBoda, “we do not see any immediate changes in the use of styrenated resins in cured-in-place pipe.

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