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Groups move to enter fight over industry opposition to government styrene warning

May 23, 2012
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WASHINGTON — United Steelworkers, one of the largest labor organizations in the U.S., along with environmental advocacy group Environmental Defense Fund and Peter Orris, a top physician in occupational medicine, filed legal papers late Friday aimed at making sure government can alert the American public to the potential dangers of styrene, a chemical used extensively in the manufacture of plastics, as well as boats, cars, bathtubs and products made with rubber, such as tires and conveyer belts.

The groups filed a motion to intervene in D.C. District Court, seeking to help defend the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ listing of styrene as "reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen."

The motion is in response to a chemical industry lawsuit attempting to force the agency to withdraw the styrene warning.

“This case is about the public’s right to have scientifically sound information on the link between styrene exposure and cancer,” said Marianne Engelman Lado, Earthjustice attorney representing the groups. “Styrene is a dangerous chemical that is all around us because of its widespread use in plastics manufacturing. It’s clear that industry is trying to prevent people from getting scientific information about this toxic chemical and we intend to make sure government can inform the public of the risk of styrene, as well as the potential dangers of other chemicals.”

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