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Groups want styrene off proposed carcinogens list

The U.S. styrene industry this week appealed to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to remove a proposed listing of styrene in the department’s impending report on carcinogens and schedule it for a review in the next edition, the Styrene Information and Research Center said.

In a letter, Jack Snyder, executive director of the research center, and John Schweitzer, senior director of government affairs for the American Composites Manufacturers Association, asked Sebelius for another review using a rigorous, unbiased, transparent process.

The appeal follows a letter sent May 11 to Sebelius that was signed by 63 U.S. House members (47 Republicans and 16 Democrats) and that alleged serious deficiencies in the styrene review, which was done by the department’s National Toxicology Program.

In 2008, the toxicology program proposed listing styrene as “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen” despite the fact that European Union regulators, a panel of internationally recognized epidemiologists and a Harvard Center for Risk Analysis study determined that styrene does not represent a human cancer concern, the styrene research center said.

The toxicology program’s recommended listing is “based on a selective reading of the available scientific information that ignored a large number of important studies that did not support the [toxicology program’s] staff position. Not only was this information ignored, it was effectively excluded from the information presented to the NTP’s Board of Scientific Counselors [for review],” the styrene research center and the composites trade group wrote.

More than 750,000 people work in thousands of companies that use styrene and styrene-based materials to make products that are used every day by virtually every American, they said in the letter.

Styrene also occurs naturally in plants that are commonly and safely consumed, including cinnamon, strawberries, coffee and wheat.

The styrene research center and the composites trade group are part of a coalition that includes the National Marine Manufacturers Association and the Plastics Foodservice Packaging Group of the American Chemistry Council.

Click here to read the letter.

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