US executives want White House review of styrene cancer-warning

26 September 2011 23:02  [Source: ICIS news]

WASHINGTON (ICIS)--A group of US styrene producers and consumers on Monday called on the White House for an objective scientific review of what they regard as an "ill-founded and irresponsible" characterisation of styrene as a cancer risk for humans.

In a letter to White House chief of staff William Daley, executives representing 21 styrene industry companies asked the Obama administration to order a comprehensive scientific review by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) of a decision made earlier this year by the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

The NAS is a taxpayer-funded agency that advises the US government on science and technical issues, and its findings typically influence Congress.

In June, the HHS’s National Toxicology Program (NTP) issued its 12th Report on Carcinogens (RoC), in which styrene is characterised as “reasonably anticipated” to be a human carcinogen.

Styrene industry interests, including the Styrene Information and Research Center (SIRC), immediately challenged the NTP decision and filed suit in federal court seeking to reverse what the styrene producers group termed a “scientifically bankrupt” decision.

Later in June, the US District Court in Washington, DC, declined to issue a temporary stay order against the NTP, but the court said it would consider the SIRC’s request for a permanent injunction. That case is pending.

The styrene industry has also sought assistance from key committees in Congress.

In their latest appeal on Monday to the White House, styrene sector officials charged that the department and NTP regulators failed to consider a range of studies from third parties and other nations that found no cancer link for styrene.

The executives said that a review by the NAS “would go a long way toward settling the scientific controversy and allow the administration to provide responsible guidance” to industry workers and the public about styrene.

If not corrected, they said, the HHS listing of styrene as a likely carcinogen would “have the long-term effect of moving manufacturing jobs to Mexico, China, France or one of the many other countries” that have not deemed styrene a cancer risk.

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

By: Joe Kamalick
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