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General Description

Synonyms:  Cinnamene; Ethenyl benzene; Phenylethylene; Styrene monomer; Styrol; Vinylbenzene

OSHA IMIS code: 2280

CAS number(s): 100-42-5

Exposure Limits and Health Effects (Updated September 6, 2012)

Standard Set By Exposure Limit Health Effect Codes -- Health Effects and Target Organs
OSHA 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

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
ACGIH TLV® (1996) 20 ppm (85 mg/m3) TWA
40 ppm (170 mg/m3) STEL
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

Carcinogenic classification:

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

ATSDR Inhalation Minimal Risk Levels (MRLs): 5 ppm (acute); 0.2 ppm (chronic)

NIOSH 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).

Partial reference list:

  • ACGIH: Documentation of the Threshold Limit Values (TLVs) and Biological Exposure Indices (BEIs) - Styrene, Monomer. 2016.
  • 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
  • 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
  • NIOSH: Criteria for a Recommended Standard - Occupational Exposure to Styrene. 1983.
  • NIOSH/CEC/IPCS: International Chemical Safety CardsStyrene. April 2006.
  • Zamyslowska-Szmytke E. et al.: Temporal processing disorder associated with styrene exposure. Audiol Neurootol. 14(5):296-302, 2009.

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