US manufacturer seeks hold against listing styrene as carcinogenic

06 July 2011 02:54  [Source: ICIS news]

WASHINGTON (ICIS)--The world's largest producer of foam cups argued on Tuesday for a preliminary injunction against the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to stop the department from listing one of the key chemicals in its expandable polystyrene (EPS) cups as an "anticipated carcinogen".

HHS indicated in a report on June 10 that it will list styrene, a chemical used in container packaging such as coffee cups, as likely to cause cancer, prompting Dart Container of Mason, Michigan, and trade group the Styrene Information and Research Center (SIRC) to sue the department.

In a hearing before Judge Reggie Walton of the US District Court for the District of Columbia, lawyers for Dart are seeking an injunction against HHS to prevent significant business loss if the listing is approved.

A court ruling blocking the HHS action of listing styrene as an "anticipated carcinogen" will allow for more public debate over whether the chemical is carcinogenic and help prevent "irreparable harm" to the food packaging business, the company argued.

Moreover, Dart claims HHS did not follow proper procedures in its listing of styrene as an "anticipated carcinogen" in its 12th Report on Carcinogens (RoC) on June 10.

Dart alleged that the National Toxicology Program (NTP), which prepares the RoC for HHS, did not follow proper procedures for listing styrene as carcinogenic.

Were the department to apply similar methods to all potential carcinogens, HHS should also list mobile phones as likely to cause cancer, the company's lawyers contended.

But HHS countered that Dart had not demonstrated that it will face financial harm. The federal government noted that the company did not supply proper financial records to demonstrate that a listing of styrene as a carcinogen will harm the company's business.

Furthermore, HHS contended it held two rounds of public comment on the matter of styrene as a carcinogen and held at least four scientific review boards -- two made up of government employees and two made up of outside experts.

Walton did not deliver an opinion on Tuesday. He said he will take time to consider whether to grant an injunction on behalf of Dart, while the case continues to move through the federal court system.

The styrene chemical market represents a $28bn (€19bn) industry in the US, according to SIRC.

($1 = €0.69)

By: Mickey McCarter
+1 713 525 2653

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