Congress could review styrene designation

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Executives representing the styrene, styrenic composites and boatbuilding industries praised the co-chairmen of three House caucuses for urging congressional leaders to convene bipartisan oversight hearings and submit letters of inquiry challenging the styrene classification contained in the National Toxicology Program's recent 12th Report on Carcinogens.

Styrene is one of eight new substances listed in the report, which the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released in June. Styrene, used in the building of fiberglass boats, is listed as “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen based on limited evidence of carcinogenicity from studies in humans, sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity from studies in experimental animals and supporting data on mechanisms of carcinogenesis.”

Manufacturing Caucus co-chairmen Donald Manzullo, R-Ill., and Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, last week petitioned the chairmen and ranking minority members of the House Energy and Commerce and Small Business committees to hold a joint oversight review as soon as possible.

Manzullo and Ryan sent separate requests to Hal Rogers, R-Ky., chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, and Denny Rehberg, R-Mont., chairman of the Subcommittee on Labor, Health & Human Services, urging them to issue letters of inquiry to the National Toxicology Program’s parent agency, the Department of Health and Human Services, questioning the process used to arrive at its determination.

Another call for oversight hearings was issued Wednesday in a letter to the Small Business and Energy and Commerce committees from the co-chairs of the Congressional Composites Caucus and the Boating Caucus — Reps. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., and Candice Miller, R-Mich.

Wilson, Donnelly, and Miller noted in their letter, “We understand that NTP used only a small part of the styrene database and may have mischaracterized the data used. Additionally, NTP failed to follow its own peer review policy and responded to outside scientific input only after a decision had been made.”

Tom Dobbins, chief staff executive of the American Composites Manufacturing Association, echoed these concerns, noting: “The preponderance of credible scientific data over the past decade — including an exhaustive European Union study and findings from a peer-reviewed published report by world-recognized scientists — shows no causal link between styrene and human cancer.

“The NTP made it clear that its listing does not suggest that styrene presents a risk to people in their daily lives. Indeed, NTP’s lead scientist concedes he’s not urging workers or consumers to change their habits or behavior in any way,” Dobbins added.

“Not only are there concerns with NTP’s scientific process, but its listing of styrene on the 12th RoC could also have a detrimental impact on U.S. jobs in some of the few remaining American manufacturing industries,” Dobbins said. “Hundreds of thousands of sorely needed American manufacturing jobs depend on a viable styrene industry.”

Dobbins’ statement was endorsed by Thom Dammrich, president of the National Marine Manufacturers Association, and Jack Snyder, executive director of the Styrene Information and Research Center.

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