There is no better time than the New Year to reflect on the past and think about the future. Our industry faced some significant legislative and regulatory challenges in 2012 but with commitment and hard work managed to turn them into major successes. We are in a good place as we head into 2013 but there is no time to let the grass grow under our feet.

Since styrene was listed in 2011 as a “reasonably anticipated carcinogen” in the 12th Report on Carcinogens (RoC), ACMA has been fully engaged and actively working to change this assessment. The assessment of styrene failed to employ the full breadth of available data and disregarded the best methods of good science. Dozens of studies from both the private and public sectors, as well as government assessments from many other countries, all suggest the accurate conclusion that styrene poses no cancer risk.

We can complain about the listing of styrene but our words mean little without action. We have succeeded in getting the attention of Congress on this issue and worked with them to get $1 million appropriated for a National Academy of Sciences peer review of the RoC listing. Our efforts didn’t stop there however; it took significant work with Congressional leaders to get the contract signed and the review underway.

Beyond the review, ACMA has been laying the groundwork for Congress to take a careful look at the RoC and other chemical assessment programs and make needed reforms. In March, a House Energy and Commerce Committee panel examined the EPA Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) program and heard testimony from Teri Schenk of ACMA member company Global Composites. John Barker of Strongwell Corporation and Bonnie Webster of Monroe Industries also gave important testimony in a critical House Science Committee and House Small Business Committee joint hearing on the RoC and its impact on businesses. These hearings gave ACMA’s advocacy initiatives a much greater level of visibility.

ACMA also has been active on many other regulatory issues. We revised our styrene communications toolkit, which will be available early this year for members needing to communicate with employees or plant neighbors about health risks. ACMA’s Government Affairs Committee issued guidance on complying with OSHA’s hazard communication requirements for combustible dust. In addition, we are working with EPA to maintain reasonable regulation of the industry under the composites manufacturing MACT air emission control regulations and to provide accurate emission factors that reduce the need for expensive and uncertain emission testing by plants.