Styrene is derived from petroleum and listed as a "reasonably anticipated" carcinogen.

Earlier this year, the 12th Report on Carcinogens listed the synthetic chemical styrene as “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen”.

This first-time listing is being opposed by the chemical industry, who say there is no proof that styrene is a health threat and that the listing should be reviewed.

A U.S. industry association, the Styrene Information & Research Center Inc. (SIRC) is spearheading the fight, with a new website that offers more information on styrene as well as exposure limits and health studies and a federal lawsuit challenging the listing.

There are a lot of studies done in Canada and the European Union as well as the United States. The U.S. Health and Human Services department, which publishes the Report on Carcinogens, did not assess all the information properly, the association alleges.

What is styrene?

Styrene is a synthetic chemical that is used extensively in the manufacture of plastics, rubber, and resins.

It is a clear, colorless liquid derived from petroleum and natural gas byproducts and it is used in materials for food containers, packaging materials, cars, boats, computers, and more products.

According to OSHA, About 90,000 workers, including those who make boats, tubs, and showers, are potentially exposed to styrene.

Health effects from styrene exposure may involve the central nervous system and include complaints of headache, fatigue, dizziness, confusion, drowsiness, malaise, difficulty in concentrating, and a feeling of intoxication.

Source: Occupational Health & Safety; OSHA

Cleaner air, better work conditions

The final word on styrene may still be out, but one thing is for certain – the less people are exposed to chemicals, the better it is for their health and well-being.

Most airborne chemicals can be adsorbed by a powerful activated carbon air filter.

Electrocorp specializes in odor and chemical control and offers industrial air cleaners with activated carbon, HEPA and UV (optional).

Find an air cleaner recommended for your industry or contact us to find out more.