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Styrene a possible threat: US Dept. of Health

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has added styrene to its list of chemicals and biological agents that are suspected as possible causes of cancer.


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July 15, 2011 by Canadian Plastics

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has added styrene to its list of chemicals and biological agents that are suspected as possible causes of cancer.

In a news release, the agency’s National Toxicology Program (NTP) described styrene as “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen”. The NTP said styrene made the list based on human cancer studies, laboratory animal studies, and “mechanistic scientific information”, including information from the National Institutes of Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, and Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

“The limited evidence of cancer from studies in humans shows lymphohematopoietic cancer and genetic damage in the white blood cells, or lymphocytes, of workers exposed to styrene,” the NTP said. “People may be exposed to styrene by breathing indoor air that has styrene vapors from building materials, tobacco smoke, and other products. The greatest exposure to styrene in the general population is through cigarette smoking. Workers in certain occupations may potentially be exposed to much higher levels of styrene than the general population.”

Last year nearly 9 billion pounds (4.1 billion kilograms) of styrene were made in the U.S. alone, according to the American Chemistry Council.

The full NTP news release can be found at this link.