Review committee says 2011 liquid styrene study stands

By Gayle S. Putrich
Staff Reporter

Published: August 1, 2014 1:13 pm ET
Updated: August 1, 2014 1:20 pm ET

Related to this story

Topics Public Policy

WASHINGTON — A 3-year-old federal agency ruling that liquid styrene may be a carcinogen still stands, according to the latest review of the decision.

Essentially an audit of the previous study, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences (NAS) released its review of the June 2011 U.S. National Toxicology Program’s (NTP) last week.

The committee that penned the original report found “limited but credible” evidence of carcinogenic effects from styrene in human studies, “sufficient” evidence from animal studies and “convincing relevant information” in studies observing DNA damage in human cells that had been exposed to styrene.  According to the NAS, the committee reached the same conclusion after conducting both a peer review of the 12th Report on Carcinogens from 2011 and an independent assessment of the styrene literature from the past several years, through November 2013.

At least two studies of plastics workers exposed to styrene released in 2013 concluded that there is no connection between cancer and styrene exposure, even in high doses.

The original report sent shockwaves through parts of the plastics industry, with companies scrambling to change their material data sheet and beef up protection for employees while simultaneously pushing Congress to review the decision and the science behind it.

Though many consumer groups were quick to confuse clear liquid styrene with polystyrene foam it is used to make, the Styrene Information and Research Center (SIRC) and the American Chemistry Council (ACC) calmly pointed out that the new report essentially means nothing has changed since 2011.

“Consumers are not at risk from products made from styrene. National Toxicology Program officials confirmed the safety of styrene-based products when styrene was included in its Report on Carcinogens in 2011,” said Jack Snyder, SIRC’s executive director. “The styrene industry has invested more than $25 million to advance the science on styrene and fulfill our product stewardship mission. We believe research currently in progress will expand on the data considered in the NRC report, and provide more robust information for future styrene hazard and risk assessments.”

Styrene is a liquid that can be chemically linked to create polystyrene, which is a solid plastic that displays different properties, which the ACC explained in a blog post.

“In light of the recent National Academy of Sciences review of styrene, it is important to point out that federal regulators have not changed their view that polystyrene is safe for food service packaging. The U.S. Food & Drug Administration, the agency charged with scientific review and approval of food contact applications, has determined for more than 50 years that polystyrene is safe for use in food service products. The European Commission/European Food Safety Authority and other regulatory agencies have reached similar conclusions,” the ACC said in a statement.

In addition to being a key component in the manufacture of polystyrene, colorless liquid styrene is also used in the manufacture of rubber tires, building insulation, carpet backing and reinforced fiberglass composites and occurs naturally in many foods, from strawberries to cinnamon.


Comments

Review committee says 2011 liquid styrene study stands

By Gayle S. Putrich
Staff Reporter

Published: August 1, 2014 1:13 pm ET
Updated: August 1, 2014 1:20 pm ET

Post Your Comments


Back to story


More stories

OSHA investigation launched following blast at NJ reticulated foam plant

October 24, 2014 9:00 am ET

Four workers were concussed and sustained minor injuries during an explosion at the Inoac Crest Foam plant in Moonachie, N.J., earlier this month.    More

Image

FTC warns bag makers to take care before making biodegradeability claims

October 23, 2014 12:30 pm ET

Makers of oxodegradable or oxo-biodegradable plastic bags should consider themselves on notice, according to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission.    More

Image

Plastic particles showing up in Germany's Lake Constance

October 21, 2014 1:16 pm ET

While Fakuma 2014 exhibitors and visitors occupied themselves with topics like molding of micro-sized plastic parts during the show, the presence of...    More

Image

Report: Suspected former Nazi with plastic connection collecting Social Security

October 20, 2014 3:52 pm ET

UPDATED — A one-time plastics executive in Akron is among dozens of suspected former Nazis who have been collecting U.S. Social Security...    More

Market Reports

Plastics Recycling Trends in North America

This report is a review and analysis of the North American Plastics Recycling Industry, including key trends and statistics based on 2013 performance. We examine market environment factors, regulatory issues, industry challenges, key drivers and emerging trends in post-consumer and post-industrial recycling.

Learn more

Plastics in Mexico - State of the Industry Report

This report analyzes the $20 million dollar plastics industry in Mexico including sales of machinery & equipment, resins and finished products.

Our analysts provide insight on business trends, foreign investment, top end markets and plastics processing activity. The report also provides important data on exports, production, employment and value of plastics products manufactured.

Learn more

Plastics Caps & Closures Market Report

The annual recap of top trends and future outlook for the plastics caps & closures market features interviews with industry thought leaders and Bill Wood’s economic forecast of trends in growing end markets. You will also gain insight on trends in caps design, materials, machinery, molds & tooling and reviews of mergers & acquisitions.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

January 14, 2015 - January 14, 2015Plastics in Automotive

February 4, 2015 - February 6, 2015Plastics News Executive Forum 2015

June 2, 2015 - June 3, 2015Plastics Financial Summit - Chicago 2015

September 16, 2015 - September 18, 2015Plastics Caps & Closures - September 2015

October 27, 2015 - October 29, 2015Plastics Financial Summit - New York - 2015

More Events