Styrene is the molecular building block of polystyrene, a plastic used in expanded polystyrene (EPS) and extruded polystyrene (XPS), both types of foam insulation.

How can this chemical affect my health?

Acute (Short Term) Effects

icon_toxic-orange.pngToxic to Humans & Animals – Can be fatal on contact, ingestion or inhalation for humans and other mammals.

eye-orange.png Irritates the Eyes – Can cause irritation or serious damage to the eye.

corrosive-orange.png Irritates the Skin – Can cause irritation or serious damage to the skin.

Chronic (Long Term) Effects

cancer-red.png Cancer – Can cause or increase the risk of cancer.

dna-orange.png Reproductive Harm – Can disrupt the male or female reproductive systems, changing sexual development, behavior or functions, decreasing fertility, or resulting in loss of the fetus during pregnancy.

asthma-orange.png Endocrine Disruption – Can interfere with hormone communication between cells which controls metabolism, development, growth, reproduction and behavior (the endocrine system).

corrosive-orange.png Gene Damage – Can cause or increase the rate of mutations, which are changes in genetic material in cells.

pregnancy-yellow.png Asthma Trigger – Can result in high sensitivity so that small quantities trigger asthma, nose or sinus inflammation or other allergic reactions in the respiratory system.

pbt-gray.png Other Health Effects – Can cause serious damage on contact or ingestion.

corrosive-orange.png Birth Defects – Can cause harm to the developing child including birth defects, low birth weight and biological or behavioral problems that appear as the child grows.

pregnancy-yellow.png Brain/Nervous System Harm – Can cause damage to the nervous system including the brain.

pbt-gray.png Breast Cancer – Known to increase mammary gland tumors in animals.

pbt-gray.png PBT (Persistent Bioaccumulative Toxicant) – Does not break down readily from natural processes, accumulates in organisms concentrating as it moves up the food chain, and is harmful in small quantities.

What are safer alternatives?

  • GOOD – Only use EPS and XPS for below grade applications, which virtually eliminates exposure to off-gassing.
  • BETTER – No option available.
  • BEST – Consider other forms of insulation, such as cellular glass or rigid mineral wool.

Effects detailed above can occur at various stages of the product’s lifetime, not just during usage. All have been included to provide a complete picture of the chemical’s danger.