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National Drinking Water Database
Styrene in Massachusetts
Styrene is a pollutant from plastics, rubber and other industrial chemical factories and from landfill leachate. [read more]
Styrene is a major industrial chemical with annual U.S. production exceeding 10 billion pounds (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) 1998b; Hazardous Substances Data Bank (HSDB) 2002d). Styrene is used in the manufacturing of polystyrene plastics and resins, and in the synthesis of styrene-containing copolymers. Styrene-containing products are used for packaging materials, carpet backing, pipes, beverage containers, electrical and insulating materials, and automotive components (Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) 1992d, 2007f). These products may contain styrene at concentrations of 30 to 50 percent. Consumers may also be exposed to potentially high levels of styrene leaching from polystyrene containers (USEPA 2002p).
Styrene contaminates water supplies due to industrial waste discharges from rubber and plastic factories and leaching from landfills. In 2000, the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) reported that U.S. industrial facilities released 49,512,737 pounds of styrene into environment, almost 95 percent of which was through air emissions. Fifteen states release more than one million pounds of styrene to the environment (TN, IN, TX, FL, GA, CA, OH, IL, MI, NC, PA, AL, MN, SC, WI). More than half the total U.S. emissions are reported by the plastics industry. Other major emission sources include the transportation equipment and chemical industries (USEPA 2009i).
According to EPA, chronic exposure to levels of styrene in drinking water above the maximum contaminant level (MCL) of 0.1 parts per million (ppm) can cause damage to liver and nerve tissue, and possibly cancer (USEPA 2009b). Other findings in laboratory animals include damage to the kidneys and testes (ATSDR 2007f). Some studies have linked occupational styrene exposure to impaired neurological activity, such as decreased visuomotor performance, psychomotor performance and EEG abnormalities (ATSDR 2007f).
Styene is classified as a possible human carcinogen by the International Agency on Research on Cancer (IARC) because a breakdown product of styrene, called styrene-7,8-oxide, damages DNA (HSDB 2002d; IARC 2008b). In animal studies, chronic exposure to styrene has caused increases in mammary tumors and possibly lung tumors (ATSDR 1992d).
The Most Polluted Communities in Massachusetts
2 water utilities reported detecting Styrene in tap water since 2004, according to EWG's analysis of water quality data supplied by state water agencies
Ranked by highest average Styrene level
|Rank||System||Population Served||Positive test results of total reported tests||Average Level|
|1||East Chelmsford Water District|
|2,000||1 of 8||0.93 ppb|
(0 to 7.4 ppb)
|2||Masonic Home, Inc.|
|456||1 of 11||0.08 ppb|
(0 to 0.9 ppb)
Health Based Limits for Styrene
|Maximum Contaminant Limit (MCL)||The enforceable standard which defines the highest level of a contaminant that is allowed in drinking water. MCLs are set as close to health-based limits (Maximum Contaminant Level Goals, or MCLGs) as feasible using the best available analytical and treatment technologies and taking cost into consideration. Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.||100 ppb|
|Maximum Contaminant Limit Goal (MCLG)||A non-enforceable health goal that is set at a level at which no known or anticipated adverse effect on the health of persons occurs and which allows an adequate margin of safety. Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.||100 ppb|
|Lifetime health-based limit, non-cancer risk||Concentration of a chemical in drinking water that is not expected to cause any adverse, noncarcinogenic health effects for a lifetime of exposure. The Lifetime health-based limit (or Health Advisory, HA) is based on exposure for a a 70-kg adult consuming 2 liters of water per day. Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.||100 ppb|
|Children's health-based limit for 10-day exposure||Concentration of a chemical in drinking water that is not expected to cause any adverse, noncarcinogenic effects for up to ten days of exposure. The Ten-Day health-based limit (or Health Advisory, HA) is typically set to protect a 10-kg child consuming 1 liter of water per day. Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.||2000 ppb|
|Drinking Water Equivalent Level||A lifetime exposure concentration protective of adverse, noncarcinogenic health effects, that assumes all of the exposure to a contaminant is from drinking water. Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.||7000 ppb|
|Children's health-based limit for 1-day exposure||Concentration of a chemical in drinking water that is not expected to cause any adverse, noncarcinogenic health effects for up to one day of exposure. The One-Day health-based limit (or Health Advisory, HA) is typically set to protect a 10-kg child consuming 1 liter of water per day. Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.||20000 ppb|
Violation Summary for Styrene in Massachusetts
Data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency includes the following violations of federal standards in Massachusetts since 2004
|Violation Type||Number of Violations|
|Failure to monitor regularly||67|