Styrene

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Sean Foley
Lead author: Sean Foley

Overview


Styrene is a liquid chemical used in producing polystyrene plastics and resins including rubber, plastic, insulation, fiberglass, pipes, automobile parts, food containers, and carpet backing (#EPA Air Toxics). Billions of pounds are used each year and trace amounts can be naturally observed in a variety of foods as well (#ATSDR).


Just the facts


Physical Information

Name: Styrene

Chemical Formula: C 6 H 5 CH=CH 2

Synonyms/Trade Names: Vinyl benzene, Phenethylene, Cinnamene, Diarex HF 77, Styrolene, Styrol, Styropol

Chemical Formula: C 8 H 8

Use: chemical synthesis

Source: naturally occurring and synthetically produced

Recommended daily intake: none

Absorption: dermal, inhalation, ingestion

Sensitive individuals: workers

Regulatory facts: highly regulated

Chemical Structure



Chemical Description


Styrene is an oil organic colorless liquid that has a sweet floral smell (#ATSDR and #EPA Consumer Factsheet). It is often used in combination with other Chemicals List.

Uses


Styrene is used, often in combination, to produce numerous products including rubber, plastic, insulation, fiberglass, pipes, automobile parts, food containers, and carpet backing (#ATSDR and #EPA Consumer Factsheet).

Specific goods that may contain Styrene (#Scorecard):

  • Building and construction plastic foam insulation, incl pipe and block
  • Epoxy adhesives
  • Loose mineral wool fiber (blowing and pouring)
  • Miscellaneous paint-related products
  • Nonstructural caulking compounds and sealants
  • Other automotive chemicals
  • Other rubber floor and wall coverings incl cove base, wainscotting, etc.
  • Scatter rugs, bathmats, and sets (rugs 6 x 9 ft and smaller)
  • Sheet vinyl flooring
  • Synthetic resin and rubber adhesives

Health Effects


Acute Effects
Styrene has found to adversely affect the nervous and respiratory system which primarily occurs in workers who breathe the chemical due to inadequate protection or ventilation. Symptoms include (#EPA Air Toxics and #ATSDR):
* mucous membrane irritation
* depression
* concentration problems
* muscle weakness
* tiredness
* nausea
* eye, nose, and throat irritation.

There is little information regarding the acute effects of ingesting styrene but animal studies showed that long-term ingestion of styrene can damage the liver, kidneys, brain, and lungs (#ATSDR).

Chronic Effects
Chronic exposure to styrene can lead to central nervous system defects including (#EPA Air Toxics):
* headache
* fatigue
* weakness
* depression
* problems with reaction time, memory, visuomotor speed and accuracy, and intellectual function
* hearing loss
* peripheral neuropathy
* minor effects on some kidney enzyme functions and on the blood

Styrene is on numerous lists for its toxic effects (#Scorecard):

Hazard

Group

Carcinogen

EPA, HEN, HAZMAP, IARC NTP-BR P65-CAND

Cardiovascular or Blood Toxicant

RTECS

Developmental Toxicant

EPA-SARA, JANK

Endocrine Toxicant

BKH, IL-EPA, JNIHS, KEIT, WWF

Gastrointestinal or Liver Toxicant

ATSDR, DIPA, EPA-HEN, RTECS

Immunotoxicant

HAZMAP

Kidney Toxicant

STAC

ATSDR, DAN, EPA-HEN, HAZMAP, OEHHA-CREL, RTECS, STAC

Reproductive Toxicant

FRAZIER

Respiratory Toxicant

EPA-HEN, HAZMAP, OEHHA-AREL, RTECS

Skin or Sense Organ Toxicant

EPA-HEN, HAZMAP, OEHHA-AREL, RTECS

Environmental Effects


Styrene can enter the environment in many ways: during the manufacturing process, disposal process, or general breaking down of stryene-laden products (#ATSDR). It breaks down in soil and evaporates in water very quickly and does not bind well to soil. It is not bioaccumulative (#ATSDR and #EPA Consumer Factsheet).

Regulation


Styrene is a highly regulated chemical. See #EPA Air Toxics for complete list. Some major regulations include (#EPA Air Toxics and ATSDR:
OSHA PEL (permissible exposure limit): expressed as a time-weighted average; the concentration of a substance to which most workers can be exposed without adverse effect averaged over a normal 8-h workday or a 40-h workweek.

NIOSH REL-NIOSH's recommended exposure limit; NIOSH-recommended exposure limit for an 8 or 10-h time-weighted-average exposure and/or ceiling.

EPA Regulations:

  • spills or accidental releases into the environment of 1,000 pounds or more of styrene be reported.

  • 0.1 part of styrene per million parts of water (0.1 ppm) is the maximum amount that may be present in drinking water.

External Links


References



Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). " Consumer Factsheet on: STYRENE". Last updated on Tuesday, November 28th, 2006. Accessed 9-2707.


Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). "Technology Transfer Network Air Toxics Web Site: Styrene". Last updated on Monday, August 6th, 2007. Accessed 9-27-07.


Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). "ToxFAQs? for Styrene". September 1995. Accessed 9-27-07.


Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). "Safety and Health Topics Styrene". Accessed 9-27-07.


Scorecard. "Chemical Profile for STYRENE (CAS Number: 100-42-5)". 2005. Accessed 9-27-07.

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