ACMA also aggressively pursued this indictment of NTP in Congress. As a result of hundred of contacts by ACMA members and association staff with Congressional offices, in December 2011 Congress ordered HHS to commission a National Academy of Sciences peer review of the RoC styrene listing decision. Also, three House committees held hearings to examine the science behind the RoC listing and the impact to smaller companies, at which ACMA members testified. At the request of House committee staff, ACMA and its partners also prepared draft legislation aimed at reforming the RoC process to employ sound science and policy.
The industry carefully managed a media offensive. ACMA members hosted plant tours for their elected officials to highlight styrene safety and the unwarranted adverse impacts of the RoC listing. Plastics News, Bloomberg, Inside EPA, our own Composites Manufacturing, and other influential industry and beltway publications carried this story, helping to promote an effective Congressional response.
ACMA believes the unwarranted fear about styrene caused by the RoC will potentially move composites manufacturing and the associated jobs to other countries.
Charging forward for change
The scientific evidence continues to argue against NTP’s review process. For example, a recent update of a large study of composite industry workers with relatively high exposure to styrene failed to find any link between styrene exposure and cancer. And recent weight-of-evidence review of the styrene data, conducted independently by the Danish EPA and researchers at Cambridge, Mass.-based Gradient Corp., both concluded the data does not support a cancer concern for styrene.
After some prodding by industry and Congressional offices, NTP recently sent the National Academy of Science (NAS) a charter for the peer review. But not surprisingly the charter tries to steer NAS away from important (and embarrassing) questions about the RoC and the styrene review. The March and April 2012 House hearings helped set the stage for legislative reform of the RoC program, but much work remains to educate Congressional offices and develop sufficient support for legislative action.
The remainder of 2012 will see the industry continue work in Congress to ensure that the NAS peer review is effective in examining both styrene’s cancer potential and the validity of the overall RoC program. ACMA will expand efforts with other trade groups to develop support for legislative reform and SIRC’s legal action will make its way through the court’s calendar, with a decision by the judge expected by year’s end.
In the meantime, the industry can be heartened by the outpouring of Congressional and media attention to the flaws of the RoC program, and look forward to a successful resolution of this issue.