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On 2/24/98, toxman wrote: anyone with any info whatsoever on exposure to styrene?

Posted by Susan Snow,, on 4/11/98

Common Name: Styrene Monomer

CAS Number: 100-42-5


* Styrene Monomer can affect you when breathed and by passing through skin.

* Because this is a MUTAGEN, handle it as a possible cancer causing substance WITH EXTREME CAUTION.

* It may also damage the fetus.

* Exposure can irritate the eyes, nose, and throat. Higher levels can cause you to feel dizzy, lightheaded. and to pass out. Very high levels could cause brain and liver damage, and death.

* Repeated exposure to lower levels can cause trouble concentrating, memory problems, and affect learning ability.



Styrene Monomer is a colorless oily liquid with an aromatic odor. It is used in making polystyrene plastics, protective coatings, polyesters, resins, and as a chemical intermediate.


Acute Health Effects

The following acute (short term) health effects may occur immediately or shortly after exposure to Styrene Monomer:

* Exposure can irritate the eyes, nose, throat and skin. Higher levels can cause you to feel dizzy, lightheaded, and to pass out. Very high levels could cause brain and liver damage and death.

* Contact can irritate the skin and eyes.

Chronic Health Effects

The following chronic (long term) health effects can occur at some time after exposure to Styrene Monomer and can last for months or years:

Cancer Hazard

* Styrene Monomer causes MUTATIONS (genetic changes). Such chemicals may have a cancer risk, and in fact, there is limited evidence that it causes cancer of the lung in animals.

* Many scientists believe there is no safe level of exposure to a cancer causing agent. Such substances may also have the potential for causing reproductive damage in humans.

Reproductive Hazard

* Styrene Monomer may damage the developing fetus.

* There is limited evidence that it may decrease fertility in females.

Other Long Term Effects

* Repeated exposure can cause memory and concentration problems, difficulty in learning, slowed reflexes, and trouble with balancing.

* Styrene Monomer can cause headaches, drowsiness, numbness and stomach upset.

Medical Testing

For those with frequent or potentially high exposure (half the TLV or greater, or significant skin contact), the following is recommended before beginning work and at regular times after that:

* Exam of the nervous system.

If symptoms develop or overexposure is suspected, the following may be useful:

* EEG (brain wave study).

* Interview for brain effects, including recent memory, mood (irritability, withdrawal), concentration, headaches, malaise and altered sleep patterns. Consider cerebellar, autonomic and peripheral nervous system evaluation. Positive and borderline individuals should be referred for neuropsychological testing.

Any evaluation should include a careful history of past and present symptoms with an exam. Medical tests that look for damage already done are not a substitute for controlling exposure. You have a legal right to request copies of your medical testing under OSHA 1910.20.


Styrene Monomer is a colorless to yellowish oily liquid. When heated, it is converted into the polymer, polystyrene, which is a clear plastic with excellent insulating properties. Styrene Monomer is used to make plastics, synthetic rubber, and resins, and in the production of insulators. It may enter the environment from industrial discharges, municipal waste treatment plant discharges, or spills.

For further information:


Styrene Problem


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