US declares styrene to be an ‘anticipated human carcinogen’

10 June 2011 18:47  [Source: ICIS news]

US declares styrene to be anticipated human carcinogenWASHINGTON (ICIS)--US federal health regulators on Friday declared that styrene is “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen”, a classification that sector officials have warned could have broad negative impact across multiple US industries.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued its long-expected 12th Report on Carcinogens (RoC) in which styrene is listed as a likely cause of cancer in humans.

That classification has long been anticipated by styrene industry officials who last month filed an appeal to the department seeking a review of the decision. More than 60 members of Congress also asked the department to revise or delay its styrene finding.

But with publication of its Report on Carcinogens, HHS has effectively rejected those appeals.

Styrene industry groups were expected to file suit soon to seek court action to block or revoke the department’s decision.

In listing styrene as a likely carcinogen, HHS said in a statement that the decision was made on the basis of “human cancer studies, laboratory animal studies and mechanistic scientific information”.

The department said that while there was only “limited evidence of cancer from studies in humans”, the cancer-related characterisation of styrene was necessary to reduce exposure to cancer-causing agents in the environment.

“People may be exposed to styrene by breathing indoor air that has styrene vapours from building materials, tobacco smoke and other products,” the department said.

However, the HHS report noted that “the greatest exposure to styrene in the general population is through cigarette smoking”.

Other than smokers, however, the department report said that the greatest risk of exposure was likely among “workers in certain occupations [who] may potentially be exposed to much higher levels of styrene than the general population”.

As the department noted, styrene is used worldwide in the manufacture of products such as rubber, plastic, insulation, fibreglass, pipes, automobile parts, food containers, and carpet backing, among many others.

Paul Hodges studies key influencers shaping the chemical industry in Chemicals and the Economy


By: Joe Kamalick
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