Styrene Designation Disputed By Industry

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

During a NTP-called teleconference for the press following the announcement on June 10, Bucher was asked if he would alter his use of products based on the new RoC listings, and he indicated that it was unlikely he would do so.

Formaldehyde and styrene are the most recognizable names of the new RoC listings, and styrene received heavy attention from reporters who invariably mentioned styrofoam cups and food containers. No reference was made to styrene’s use in the manufacture of resins for cured-in-place-pipe (CIPP) liners.

The number news reports in the consumer press about the additions to the RoC dramatically dropped in the days immediately following the NTP announcement.

Following are excerpts from various news reports, all dated June 10, the day of the announcement, about styrene’s designation as a reasonably anticipated carcinogen:

New York Times: “Styrene is mostly a concern for workers who build boats, car parts, bathtubs and shower stalls. Studies of workers exposed to high levels of styrene have found increased risks of leukemia and lymphoma and genetic damage to white blood cells. . . Consumers can be exposed to styrene from the fumes of building materials, photocopiers and tobacco smoke.

“As for styrene’s presence in plastic utensils and other consumer products, Dr. Brawley [Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical officer at the American Cancer Society] likened the risk from such products to that of coffee and cell phones -- uncertain and slight.”

"An industry spokesman said the action will hurt small businesses.

“‘It will unfairly scare workers, plant neighbors and could have a chilling effect on the development of new products,’ said Tom Dobbins of the American Composites Manufacturers Association. ‘And our companies are primarily small businesses, and this could hurt jobs and local economies.’

“Cal Dooley, president and chief executive of the American Chemistry Council, a trade association that represents companies that make and use polystyrene and formaldehyde, rejected the report’s conclusions. ‘We are extremely concerned that politics may have hijacked the scientific process,’ he said.

msnbc.com: "In light of the recent inclusion of the substance styrene in the National Toxicology Program's (NTP) 12th Report on Carcinogens, some people may wonder whether federal regulators have changed their view on the safety of plastic foodservice packaging made with styrene. The answer is no.

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