The Styrene Information and Research Center (SIRC) on May 17 reported that 63 members of the U.S. House of Representatives have called on the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to delay a proposed listing of styrene in HHS’s impending Report on Carcinogens (RoC) until a “thorough review can be conducted that weighs the full body of scientific evidence available to decision makers.”
The request came in the form of a bipartisan letter — co-sponsored by Reps. Jason Altmire (D-Pa.) and Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) — to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius that points out what it says are shortcomings in the RoC styrene review conducted by HHS’s National Toxicology Program (NTP).
Deficiencies cited in the letter, which is signed by 47 Republicans and 16 Democrats, include lack of proper peer review and response to public comments, failure to inform agency review panels of critical scientific controversies and failure to consider all relevant scientific information.
The NTP proposed in 2008 to list styrene in its next RoC 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 have determined that styrene does not represent a human cancer concern.
Styrene-based materials, including polystyrene, ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene), styrene-butadiene rubber, styrene-butadiene latex and styrene composites are used to make a wide variety of products that extend the life of transportation infrastructure, increase fuel economy, protect our troops, produce “green” energy, increase consumer safety, prevent pollution, save lives, and improve sports.
SIRC leads a styrene industry coalition that has protested the RoC listing with federal officials since it was proposed three years ago. The coalition seeks a deferral of styrene from the impending (12th) RoC and a re-review using a more scientifically rigorous and transparent process for the subsequent (13th) RoC. Other coalition members are the American Composites Manufacturers Association, National Marine Manufacturers Association, and Plastics Foodservice Packaging Group of the American Chemistry Council.