The National Research Council, an independent panel of scientists, has confirmed that styrene — the key chemical component of foam cups and other food service items — may cause cancer in people.
The panel of 10 experts concluded styrene is "reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen" — upholding a previous link by the National Toxicology Program, Medical Xpress
"Our report says this chemical could be a problem, but a full risk-assessment on dose, exposure, quantification, and further characterization of the risk would need to be done before one would think about regulation in this area," added Henney, who headed the U.S. Food and Drug Administration during the Clinton administration.
The panel's conclusion means there is scientific evidence suggesting that styrene causes cancer, but that there may be "alternative explanations, such as chance, bias or confounding factors," according to the report.
Another higher definition — "known to be a carcinogen" — means there is overwhelming scientific evidence that leaves no element of doubt that a substance causes cancer.
The National Toxicology Program is part of the National Institutes of Health. The National Research Council is a major policy body and advisory division of the National Academies, which includes the Institute of Medicine, the National Academy of Science and the National Academy of Engineering.
Styrene is a widely used compound in resins and plastics, but is best known as the polymer polystyrene, which is widely used in plastic foam products.
For decades, industry leaders have insisted that styrene-based products, especially those used in food service, are safe.
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