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Styrene

General Description

  • Synonyms: Cinnamene; Ethenyl benzene; Phenylethylene; Styrene monomer; Styrol; Vinylbenzene
  • OSHA IMIS Code Number: 2280
  • Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS) Registry Number: 100-42-5
  • NIOSH Registry of Toxic Effects of Chemical Substances (RTECS) Identification Number: WL3675000
  • Department of Transportation Regulation Number (49 CFR 172.101) and Emergency Response Guidebook: 2055 128P
  • NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards, Styrene: Physical description, chemical properties, potentially hazardous incompatibilities, and more
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Hazard Summary, Styrene: Uses, sources and potential exposure, acute and chronic health hazard information, and more

Exposure Limits and Health Effects

Exposure Limit Limit Values HE Codes Health Factors and Target Organs
OSHA Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL) – General Industry See 29 CFR 1910.1000 Table Z-2 (See also ANSI Z37.15-1969)
  • 100 ppm
  • TWA
  •  
  • 200 ppm
  • Ceiling
  •  
  • Exception to ceiling value: 600 ppm (peak), for a single time period up to 5 minutes for any 3 hours
HE7 Central nervous system depression
HE11 Irritation of the lungs
HE15 Eye, nose, and skin irritation
OSHA PEL – Construction Industry See 29 CFR 1926.55 Appendix A
  • 100 ppm
  • (420 mg/m3)
  • Ceiling
HE7 Central nervous system depression
HE11 Irritation of the lungs
HE15 Eye, nose, and skin irritation
OSHA PEL – Shipyard Employment See 29 CFR 1915.1000 Table Z-Shipyards
  • 100 ppm
  • (420 mg/m3)
  • TWA
HE7 Central nervous system depression
HE11 Irritation of the lungs
HE15 Eye, nose, and skin irritation
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Recommended Exposure Limit (REL)
  • 50 ppm
  • (215 mg/m3)
  • TWA
  •  
  • 100 ppm
  • (425 mg/m3)
  • STEL
HE2 Mutagenic effects, including cytogenic changes
HE7 Central nervous system depression
HE8 Narcosis
HE15 Eye, nose, throat, and skin irritation
American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) Threshold Limit Value (TLV) (2001) (Listed under Styrene, Monomer)
  • 20 ppm
  • TWA
  •  
  • 40 ppm
  • STEL
  •  
  • A4; BEI
HE2 Chromosomal abnormalities in peripheral lymphocytes
HE7 Central nervous system depression; peripheral nervous system impairment; optic and otoneurologic impairment
HE15 Irritation of eyes, mucous membranes, upper respiratory system, and skin
CAL/OSHA PELs
  • 50 ppm
  • (215 mg/m3)
  • TWA
  •  
  • 500 ppm
  • Ceiling
  •  
  • 100 ppm
  • (425 mg/m3)
  • STEL
  •  
  • Skin
   

National Toxicology Program (NTP) carcinogenic classification: Reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen (PDF)

International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) carcinogenic classification: Group 2B (PDF) (possibly carcinogenic to humans)

EPA carcinogenic classification: Not listed

EPA Inhalation Reference Concentration (RfC): 1 mg/m3

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) Inhalation Minimal Risk Level (MRL): 5 ppm (acute); 0.2 ppm (chronic)

NIOSH Immediately Dangerous to Life or Health (IDLH) concentration: 700 ppm

Notes on Other Potential Health Effects and Hazards

  1. Listed among FDA's "food additives permitted for direct addition to food for human consumption" (21 CFR 172.515).
  2. Occupational exposure may result in hearing loss (ototoxicity) and color vision loss (increased Color Confusion Index) at exposures below the PEL (Morata et al. 2002).
  3. Metabolized by cytochrome P-450s 2E1 and 2B6 to styrene-7,8-oxide, which is further metabolized to the main urinary metabolites mandelic acid and phenyl-glyoxylic acid. A minor metabolite, 4-vinylphenol, is specific for styrene exposure.
  4. Occupational styrene exposure may have an association with central auditory dysfunction characterized by a temporal processing disorder (Zamyslowska-Szmytke et al. 2009).
  5. IARC concluded there was limited evidence for carcinogenicity of styrene in humans based on observation of increased hematopoietic  tumors in several cohorts, and limited evidence in laboratory animals based on increased lung tumors, leading to the classification 2B, of possibly carcinogenic to humans. (IARC, 2002)
  6. The NTP Report on Carcinogens concluded that there was sufficient evidence for carcinogenicity in laboratory animals based on increased lung tumors, and limited evidence in humans based on increased hematopoietic tumors in several cohorts, leading to a classification of reasonably anticipated to cause cancer in humans. (NTP, 2011)
  7. The EPA reference concentration is derived from a study in workers showing decreased central nervous system function at 22 ppm. (EPA 1993, Mutti 1984)

Date Last Revised: 12/11/2012

Literature Basis

  • ACGIH: Documentation of the Threshold Limit Values (TLVs) and Biological Exposure Indices (BEIs) - Styrene, Monomer. 2001.
  • ANSI: American National Standard Acceptable Concentrations of Styrene. September 5, 1969.
  • EPA IRIS Styrene, 1993
  • IARC Monograph for Classification of Carcinogenic Risk to Humans, Volume 82, Styrene, 2002 (PDF)
  • Manini, P. et al.: Assessment of biotransformation of the arene moiety of styrene in volunteers and occupationally exposed workers. Toxicol. Appl. Pharmacol. 189(3): 160-169, 2003.
  • Morata, T.C. et al.: Audiometric findings in workers exposed to low levels of styrene and noise. J. Occup. Environ. Med. 44(9): 806-814, 2002.
  • Mutti, A., A. Mazzucchi, P. Rusticelli, G. Frigeri, G. Arfini, and I. Franchini. 1984. Exposure-effect and exposure-response relationships between occupational exposure to styrene and neuropsychological functions. Am. J. Ind. Med. 5: 275-286.
  • NTP Report on Carcinogens Styrene (PDF)
  • NIOSH: Criteria for a Recommended Standard - Occupational Exposure to Styrene. 1983.
  • NIOSH/IPCS: International Chemical Safety Cards - Styrene. April 2006.
  • Zamyslowska-Szmytke E. et al.: Temporal processing disorder associated with styrene exposure. Audiol Neurootol. 14(5):296-302, 2009.

Monitoring Methods used by OSHA

Laboratory Sampling/Analytical Method:
  • Coated Charcoal Tube (100/50 mg sections, 20/40 mesh) Coating is p-tert-butylcatechol.
  • analytical solvent: Toluene
  • alternative solvent: (99:1) Carbon Disulfide:Dimethylformaide
  • maximum volume: 12 Liters
  • maximum flow rate: 0.05 L/min
  • maximum volume: 0.75 Liters
  • maximum flow rate: 0.05 L/min (STEL)
  • minimum time: 5 Minutes
  • maximum flow rate: 0.05 L/min (Ceiling)
  • minimum time: 5 Minutes
  • maximum flow rate: 0.05 L/min (Peak)
  • current analytical method: Gas Chromatography; GC/FID
  • method reference: OSHA Analytical Method (OSHA 89)
  • method classification: Fully Validated
  • sampling media: Diffusive Sampler:
  • SKC 575-006 Passive Sampler; or
  • 3M 3520 Organic Vapor Monitor
  • analytical solvent: Toluene
  • sampling time: 15 to 240 Minutes
  • current analytical method: Gas Chromatography FID detector; GC/FID
  • method reference: OSHA Analytical Method (OSHA 1014)
  • method classification: Fully Validated
  • note: Persons using diffusive samplers to monitor workplace air must ensure that the sampling devices are properly closed before transporting such devices to the laboratory for analysis. The device will continue to sample until properly closed. Diffusive sampler accessories used for analysis of samplers must be included with transported samples. Persons using such devices must provide sampling-site station barometric pressure and temperature to the analytical laboratory to improve accuracy of sampling results.
On-Site Sampling Techniques/Methods:
  • Detector Tube
  • manufacturer: AUER/MSA
  • model/type: Styrene-10, MSA P/N 804135, AUER P/N 5086-819
  • sampling information: follow manufacturer's instructions
  • upper measurement limit: 300 ppm
  • detection limit: approximately 5 ppm
  • overall uncertainty: unknown
  • method reference: on-site air secondary (manufacturer)
  • Detector Tube
  • manufacturer: Dräger
  • model/type: Styrene 10/a, order no. 67 23301
  • sampling information: 2 to 15 strokes
  • upper measurement limit: 200 ppm
  • detection limit: approximately 5 ppm
  • overall uncertainty: approximately 33%
  • method reference: on-site air secondary (manufacturer)
  • Detector Tube
  • manufacturer: Dräger
  • model/type: Styrene 10/b, order no. 67 33141
  • sampling information: 20 strokes
  • upper measurement limit: 250 ppm
  • detection limit: approximately 5 ppm
  • overall uncertainty: approximately 33%
  • method reference: on-site air secondary (manufacturer)
  • Detector Tube
  • manufacturer: Dräger
  • model/type: Styrene 50/a, order no. CH 27601
  • sampling information: 2 to 11 strokes
  • upper measurement limit: 400 ppm
  • detection limit: approximately 25 ppm
  • overall uncertainty: approximately 33%
  • method reference: on-site air secondary (manufacturer)
  • Detector Tube
  • manufacturer: Gastec
  • model/type: 124
  • sampling information: 0.5 to 2 strokes
  • upper measurement limit: 1500 ppm
  • detection limit: 1 ppm
  • overall uncertainty: 25% for 20 to 100 ppm, 16% for 100 to 500 ppm
  • method reference: on-site air secondary (manufacturer)
  • Detector Tube
  • manufacturer: Gastec
  • model/type: 124L
  • sampling information: 1 or 4 strokes
  • upper measurement limit: 100 ppm
  • detection limit: 0.5 ppm
  • overall uncertainty: 16% for 2 to 5 ppm, 8% for 5 to 25 ppm
  • method reference: on-site air secondary (manufacturer)
  • Detector Tube
  • manufacturer: Matheson-Kitagawa
  • model/type: 8014-158S
  • sampling information: 1 or 2 strokes
  • upper measurement limit: 300 ppm
  • detection limit: approximately 1 ppm
  • overall uncertainty: unknown
  • method reference: on-site air secondary (manufacturer)

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