California to Classify Styrene as Carcinogen

Styrene is used primarily in the production of polystyrene plastics and resins, and occupational exposure can occur in polystyrene factories and in the reinforced plastics industry.

California regulators intend to list styrene under the state's Proposition 65 as a chemical known to cause cancer.

The state Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment filed a notice of intent to list styrene last week, citing a 2011 report by the National Toxicology Program classifying it as "reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen."

Styrene is used primarily in the production of polystyrene plastics and resins, and occupational exposure can occur in polystyrene factories and in the reinforced plastics industry. Exposure by the general population generally stems from indoor air that includes emissions from building materials, consumer products or tobacco smoke.

Should the chemical be listed under Proposition 65 — the state's Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act approved by voters nearly 30 years ago — businesses would be required to provide notice about significant amounts of styrene in consumer purchases, in buildings or in materials that are released into the environment.

OEHHA officials are accepting public comments on the proposed listing through the end of March.

Regulators previously filed a notice to list styrene in 2013, but officials withdrew the filing pending the results of federal litigation and a review of the 2011 NTP report.



 

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