CHICAGO — The National Marine Manufacturers Association says it will contest the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ listing of styrene as a carcinogen. As a part of the opposition to the claim, NMMA supports a group that has filed suit against the HSS and is asking the agency to re-examine the toxicity of styrene.
The group filing the suit, Styrene Information and Research Center and Dart Container Corp., is a member, along with NMMA, of a coalition of industries and organizations that use styrene. The suit was filed naming Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of the HHS, and the HHS as the defendants.
The HHS listing was made on June 10 in the 12th Report on Carcinogens. It called styrene a substance that is “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen.” The suit was filed on the same day.
According to a written statement, NMMA believes the designation, which carries no automatic regulatory implications but can be cited in federal and state regulatory decision-making, is the result of a flawed scientific process by the National Toxicology Program (NTP) and limited animal toxicity data.
“We are disappointed that HHS has made this decision based solely on its own limited and misguided studies,” said Thom Dammrich, NMMA president. “NTP’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.”
Styrene is a clear, liquid chemical that is used in building fiberglass boats.
“At this time, no other material can provide the same high performance characteristics, quality and cost-effectiveness of styrene,” said Ellen Hopkins, communications director for NMMA.
Hopkins said that OSHA calls for a limit of 100 parts per million for styrene in work environments, but the boating industry standard is 50 parts per million. It is also boating industry standard to provide protective safety and monitoring equipment to workers to ensure exposure to styrene and other chemical emissions are kept well below government and industry guidelines, she said.
“NMMA and its partners in the manufacturing community will continue to urge HHS to re-review styrene for the next (13th) RoC using a scientifically rigorous, transparent review process,” Dammrich said.