Styrene Litigation Continues; Labeling May Not Be Required

By Jeff Griffin, Senior Editor | October 2011, Vol. 66 No. 10

CIPP was introduced 40-years ago and has developed into a billion dollar industry that provides municipalities and private companies an environmentally sound means to rehabilitate failing underground pipeline infrastructure at a fraction of the cost of traditional replacement techniques. However, even though CIPP consumes millions of pounds of styrene per year, it is estimated to represent about five percent of the styrene used for composite manufacturing which is only about 0.5 percent of the total styrene used in North America.

The SIRC lawsuit makes a forceful case for excluding styrene from the RoC. Nevertheless, SIRC, the American Composites Manufacturers Association (ACMA), and other organizations dependent on styrene have mobilized active educational and lobbying campaigns and are considering both immediate and long-term ramifications of classifying styrene as a possible carcinogen. One of those is product labeling.

OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) has required warning labels on containers of mixtures that contain more than 0.1 percent of a substance listed in the NTP RoC.

U.N. model
However, the HCS standard may soon be revised based on a United Nations model -- referred to as the GHS amendment -- that states that a single positive study is not sufficient to require cancer warning labels and that the listing of a substance in the RoC would no longer trigger a requirement for cancer warning labels.

SIRC and ACMA representatives have met with high-level OSHA officials, presented the styrene industry’s perspective and requested that OSHA not take any enforcement action between now and adoption of the GHS Amendment based on the fact that there is no cancer warning label on containers of styrene products. Instead, manufacturers and importers would have both the opportunity and the obligation to perform an appropriate weight-of-evidence assessment and rely on that assessment in classifying their products.

SIRC has reported to its members that the European Union's most recent weight-of -evidence styrene assessment concluded that styrene is not a carcinogen and subsequent scientific studies have provided further support for that conclusion.

SIRC reported that OSHA agreed to evaluate the request.