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Industry vows fight on styrene designation

The U.S. styrene industry will "contest vigorously" the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' listing of styrene in its 12th Report on Carcinogens, Jack Snyder, executive director of the Styrene Information and Research Center, said in a statement.

“The designation is completely unjustified by the latest science and resulted from a flawed process that focuses on only those data that support a cancer concern,” Snyder said.

The comments come in response to Friday’s announcement that styrene is one of eight substances newly listed in the report.

On May 26, the Styrene Information and Research Center notified the Health and Human Services legal counsel of its intent to seek a preliminary injunction if styrene was listed.

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.”

Snyder said research from European Union regulators determined that styrene does not represent a human cancer concern. EU scientists reviewed the full styrene database, weighing all of the available data in reaching their conclusion, he added.

“It is important to note that the reports do not present quantitative assessments of carcinogenic risk. … Listing in the report does not establish that such substances present a risk to persons in their daily lives,” he said. “In plain language, this statement means that [the National Toxicology Program] has not concluded that styrene presents an actual human cancer risk or a risk from any of the thousands of products made with styrene.”

A coalition of groups, including the National Marine Manufacturers Association, had fought against including styrene in the report, saying additional reviews were needed using a “rigorous unbiased transparent process.”

“We are disappointed that HHS has made this decision based solely on its own limited and misguided studies,” NMMA president Thom Dammrich said when the report was released. “[The National Toxicology Program’s] deficient scientific process, combined with their limited breadth of study in the face of a number of outside studies that were not evaluated demands that the listing be carefully examined.”

Click here for a New York Times report on concerns about styrene.

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