Styrene Designation Disputed By Industry

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

“The designation,” he said, “is completely unjustified by the latest science and resulted from a flawed process that focuses on only those data that support a cancer concern, and in the case of styrene, ignored the preponderance of data that failed to suggest a cancer concern for this substance.”

Snyder noted that the HHS included styrene in the document despite the fact that European Union (EU) regulators have determined that styrene does not represent a human cancer concern. To reach that conclusion, EU scientists reviewed the full styrene database, weighing all of the available data.

Moreover, he continued, NTP’s own language acknowledges how weaknesses in its approach could lead to public misinterpretation of the meaning of the RoC listing, including this statement:

“It is important to note that the reports do not present quantitative assessments of carcinogenic risk . . . Listing in the report does not establish that such substances present a risk to persons in their daily lives [emphasis added],” says the report.

Commented Snyder: “In plain language, this statement means that NTP has not concluded that styrene presents an actual human cancer risk, or a risk from any of the thousands of products made with styrene.”

In addition, said Snyder, new science that has emerged since the EU’s 2007 Risk Assessment Report, points even further away from a cancer concern. In 2009, the peer-reviewed Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine published a comprehensive review showing that the “...available evidence does not support a causal relationship between styrene exposure and any type of human cancer.”

The same day as HHS announced the additions to the RoC, SIRC filed a motion in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia seeking invalidation of the RoC styrene listing. The next week, a motion was filed requesting expedited handling based on SIRC’s science and process and evidence of irreparable injury to the styrene industry.

With the release of the new RoC list, Snyder said industry advocacy efforts have changed direction to focus on seeking a Congressional oversight review of the RoC and NTP’s process. A detailed white paper that outlines the scientific, procedural and administrative problems encountered during the styrene assessment will be shared with the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Plans are to approach the House Appropriations, Small Business and Energy and Commerce committees.

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