A chemical used in foam cups and disposable food containers may cause cancer, scientists have warned.
Styrene can be ‘reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen’, the National Research Council in the U.S. said yesterday. The conclusion was reached by a team of 10 experts in toxicology, chemistry and medicine.

‘[However] ‘I think it’s important to keep in mind that this is a hazard assessment,’ Dr Jane Henney, who chaired the research council’s committee of experts, told Newsday. The declaration means there is ‘scientific evidence suggesting that styrene causes cancer, but there may be alternative explanations, such as chance, bias or confounding factors’, explained Dr Henney, who led the U.S. Food and Drug Administration during the Clinton era.

‘Our report says this chemical could be a problem, but a full risk-assessment on dose, exposure, quantification and further characterization of the risk would need to be done before one would think about regulation in this area,’ she added. Dr Henney also stressed that the term ‘reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen’, was far from emphatic – unlike, say, factors such as tobacco. And that the Council’s latest ruling was in the line of that three years ago, when concerns were raised about the possible links between styrene and cancer.

The National Research Council is a major policy body and division of the National Academies, which includes the Institute of Medicine, the National Academy of Science and the National Academy of Engineering. The American Chemistry Council has previously defended styrene, saying: ‘Polystyrene plastic has been used in foodservice products – foam coffee cups, salad bar takeout containers, cutlery – for more than five decades. ‘Polystyrene has been reviewed by regulatory agencies that have deemed it safe for use in contact with food.

‘For example, polystyrene meets the stringent standards of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the European Commission/European Food Safety Authority for use in packaging to store and serve food.’
Earlier this month British scientists warned that more than 170 dangerous chemicals – including styrene – are legally used in the production of food packaging… see more

source: Dailymail UK