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Styrene Is Not Polystyrene: California Proposition 65 Listing of Styrene
Does Not Affect Polystyrene Safety Assessments

WASHINGTON (April 22, 2016) - The California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) has added styrene to its Proposition 65 list, pursuant to the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986. Styrene is a liquid substance used to make polystyrene, an inert plastic used to make many consumer products. There should be no confusion between styrene and polystyrene; these are two different materials. The American Chemistry Council (ACC) issued the following statement that highlights the differences between the two materials and the safety of polystyrene foodservice packaging. The statement can be attributed to Mike Levy, senior director for ACC's Plastics Foodservice Packaging Group:

"Consumers can be confident that California's Proposition 65 action on styrene does not affect the decades'-long safety assessments of polystyrene packaging used for foodservice. For more than 50 years, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has determined that polystyrene is safe for use in foodservice packaging , and regulatory bodies around the world agree, including the European Commission/European Food Safety Authority .

"There are important and obvious differences between styrene and polystyrene. Styrene is a liquid, and polystyrene is an inert solid plastic. They are fundamentally unalike and display distinctly different properties. Styrene is a raw material used to create high-performance plastics, car tires, carpet backing, and reinforced fiberglass composites, such as those used in bathtubs, automobile body panels and wind turbines. Once these products are manufactured, they are inert.

"Officials in California said their decision to add styrene to the Prop 65 list was based on styrene's listing in the U.S. National Toxicology Program's (NTP) 12th Report on Carcinogens in 2011. California officials determined that NTP's listing merits a Prop 65 listing. NTP does not question the safety of polystyrene foodservice packaging. As the NTP Director was widely quoted, "In finished products, certainly styrene is not an issue."

"Polystyrene is an FDA-approved and hygienic material of choice for foodservice packaging to serve foods in schools, hospitals, restaurants, food carts and sports stadiums. Its inherent insulation properties maintain food temperatures and help keep food fresh, hot or cold and ready-to-eat. Polystyrene is also used in a variety of other everyday consumer products, such as cushioning for shipping delicate electronics, energy saving insulation, kitchen appliances, smoke detectors and toys."

» For more information: Styrene, Polystyrene Foodservice Packaging and Prop 65 Q&A


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