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Styrene

Overview

CAS No. 100-42-5
Styrene (C₆H₅CH=CH₂) is a colorless liquid that evaporates easily and has a sweet smell. Breathing high levels of styrene may cause changes in color vision, tiredness, feeling drunk, slowed reaction time, concentration problems, or balance problems. Hearing loss has been observed in animals exposed to very high concentrations of styrene.

Workers may be harmed from exposure to styrene. The level of exposure depends upon the dose, duration, and work being done. Styrene is widely used to make plastics and rubber. It’s used in insulation, fiberglass, plastic pipes, automobile parts, shoes, drinking cups and other food containers, and carpet backing.

Some examples of workers at risk of being exposed to styrene include the following:

  • Workers in the reinforced plastics industry
  • Workers involved in styrene polymerization
  • Factory workers in rubber manufacturing
  • Workers in industries that use styrene polyester resin
  • Employees of photocopy centers

NIOSH recommends that employers use Hierarchy of Controls to prevent injuries.  If you work in an industry that uses styrene, please read chemical labels and the accompanying Safety Data Sheets for hazard information. Visit NIOSH’s page on Managing Chemical Safety in the Workplace to learn more about controlling chemical workplace exposures.

The following resources provide information about occupational exposure to styrene. Useful search terms for styrene include “ethenyl benzene,” “phenylethylene,” “styrene monomer,” “styrol,” and “vinyl benzene.”

NIOSH Chemical Resources

Logo of NIOSH Pocket Guide

NIOSH Pocket Guide

The NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards (NPG) helps workers, employers, and occupational health professionals recognize and control workplace chemical hazards.

Logo of Manual of Analytical Methods.

Manual of Analytical Methods

The NIOSH Manual of Analytical Methods (NMAM) is a collection of methods for sampling and analysis of contaminants in workplace air, and in the blood and urine of workers who are occupationally exposed.

Logo of Health Hazard Evaluations consisting of three letters: HHE

Health Hazard Evaluations

The Health Hazard Evaluation Program (HHE) conducts onsite investigations of possible worker exposure to chemicals. Search the HHE database for more information on styrene.

Related NIOSH Resources

Selected Publications

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International Resources

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