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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in styrene

Posted by on in Centers of Excellence
A recent report from the National Research Council (NRC) has upheld the listing of styrene as "reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen" in the National Toxicology Program's (NTP) 12th Report on Carcinogens (RoC). The NRC committee that conducted the review, both of the RoC and through an independent assessment, found that the listing is supported by "limited, but credible" evidence of carcinogenicity in human studies, "sufficient" evidence from animal studies, and "convincing relevant information" in mechanistic studies that demonstrated DNA damage in human cells exposed to styrene. Styrene is primarily a synthetic chemical used in the manufacture of products such as rubber, plastic, insulation, fiberglass, pipes, automobile parts, food containers, and carpet backing. Cigarette smoke and vehicle exhaust are sources of environmental exposure.

Referring to the NRC review, the American Chemistry Council noted that it was "important to point out that federal regulators have not changed their view that polystyrene is safe for foodservice packaging" and that the US Food and Drug Administration had "determined for more than 50 years that polystyrene is safe for use in foodservice products." The Styrene Information and Research Center (SIRC) issued a statement that consumers are not at risk from products made from styrene, citing the fact that NTP officials confirmed the safety of styrene-based products in the 2011 RoC.

The NRC committee noted that there was ambiguity regarding weighing the mechanistic evidence from data derived from in vitro studies, which considered alone could be made to support the listing of styrene as a known human carcinogen, according to the review. The committee stressed that further clarification and expanded guidance by NTP regarding the types and strength of mechanistic evidence and how it is used in the RoC listing criteria are needed in order to characterize the potential hazards posed by styrene. Implications of styrene's assessment regarding product formulation changes, permissible exposure limits, litigation potential, and other matters are yet to be determined.
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