If a D.C. federal court agrees to the unopposed litigation schedule filed in late July by the Styrene Information and Research Center, a decision about whether the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) properly added styrene to its list of possible carcinogens could be reached early in 2012. Styrene Info. & Research Ctr., Inc. v. Sebelius, No. n/a (U.S. Dist. Ct., D.D.C., filed June 10, 2011). The industry trade group contends that the HHS National Toxicology Program (NTP) process that concluded with a determination to add the substance, which is used in plastic and foam food service packaging, to the 12th Annual Report on Carcinogens (RoC) was flawed, arbitrary and capricious, an abuse of discretion, and not in accordance with the law.
The center seeks the removal of styrene from the RoC. In its complaint for declaratory and injunctive relief, the center alleges that NTP’s scientific advisory panel members ignored studies showing no causal connection between styrene exposure and cancer, substituted their own data and analyses instead of conducting a required peer review and finalized the panel’s expert report before the public comment period closed. The center cites a number of other governmental findings, both domestic and international, indicating that styrene is either a “weak human carcinogen” or “possibly carcinogenic to humans.” Such findings, according to the center, do not warrant styrene’s RoC listing as “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen.” The court reportedly denied the center’s request for a preliminary injunction on July 5. See Greenwire, August 4, 2011.