One of the largest labor organizations in the U.S., a leading
environmental advocacy group, and one of the top physicians in
occupational medicine filed legal papers late Friday aimed at making
sure government can alert the American public to the potential dangers
of styrene, a chemical used extensively in the manufacture of plastics,
as well as boats, cars, bathtubs and products made with rubber, such as
tires and conveyer belts. The groups filed a motion to intervene in D.C.
District Court, seeking to help defend the U.S. Department of Health
and Human Services’ listing of styrene as “reasonably anticipated to be a
human carcinogen.” The motion is in response to a chemical industry
lawsuit attempting to force the agency to withdraw the styrene warning.
“This case is about the public’s right to have scientifically sound
information on the link between styrene exposure and cancer,” said
Marianne Engelman Lado, Earthjustice attorney representing the groups.
“Styrene is a dangerous chemical that is all around us because of its
widespread use in plastics manufacturing. It’s clear that industry is
trying to prevent people from getting scientific information about this
toxic chemical and we intend to make sure government can inform the
public of the risk of styrene, as well as the potential dangers of other
Styrene has long been suspected of being harmful to human health. The
listing of styrene by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
came after seven years of scientific review, vetting by multiple panels
of experts, and numerous rounds of public comment. HHS is the U.S.
government’s principal agency for protecting the health of all