Composite-materials makers have announced a pledge to fight a pending designation of styrene as a health hazard by the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services.
Speaking at the American Composites Manufacturers Association 2011 exhibition and convention on Feb. 2-4 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., the firms vowed to stage an aggressive congressional lobbying effort against the designation of styrene as a “reasonably anticipated” carcinogen.
ACMA President Monty Felix, CEO of Alaglas Swimming Pools in St. Matthews, S.C., alleged that the National Toxicology Program, the division of HHS that proposed the designation, “has manipulated and distorted research data to reach their own predetermined conclusions.” ACMA staffers circulated a letter throughout the meeting for members to sign and deliver to politicians.
Styrene is used to manufacture polystyrene and other materials; it is included in insulation, composite pipes, carpet backing, and other rubber and plastic products.
John Schweitzer, ACMA’s senior director of government affairs, says the composites industry hired Paolo Boffetta, formerly of the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer, to lead a panel reviewing numerous studies of a possible link between styrene exposure and cancer. In early 2010, the panel concluded there was no direct evidence that styrene causes cancer.
“The available epidemiologic evidence does not support a causal relationship,” the report said.
If the designation as a carcinogen is approved, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration will require placement of cancer warning labels within three months on resin containers and products containing styrenes. HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius could inform ACMA of her decision within the next two to six weeks, Schweitzer says. ACMA has asked HHS to reevaluate the data before making a determination or have the data sent to the National Academy of Sciences for further review.