Judge Rejects Industry Suit To Omit Styrenes from Carcinogens Report

June 5, 2013

US District Judge Reggie B. Walton on May 15, 2013, rejected an industry challenge to the listing of styrene as "reasonably anticipated" to be cancer-causing in the biennial federal Report on Carcinogens.

The National Toxicology Program (NTP), part of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, must by law prepare every two years a report listing substances that can cause cancer or are "reasonably anticipated" to do so.  Its findings are based on scientific studies and are peer-reviewed.

NTP began studying styrene (used to make plastic packaging) as a possible carcinogen in 2004, and finally listed it in June 2011. The Styrene Information and Research Council, an industry trade organization, then sued the government, challenging the listing on procedural grounds.

The industry also mounted a political campaign, persuading a powerful House Appropriations subcommittee chairman to withhold spending for the report until NTP reconsidered the styrene listing. The chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor and Health and Human Services, Denny Rehberg (R-MT), left Congress after losing his 2012 bid to unseat Sen. Jon Tester, a Democrat.