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Styrene Quick Facts
  • Styrene is a clear liquid, derived from petroleum and natural gas by-products, used to make thousands of everyday products.
  • Styrene also occurs naturally in the environment and is present in many common foods, such as beef, cinnamon and strawberries.
  • A few of the most familiar uses of styrene include:
    • Polystyrene foam, used in food service products and building insulation.
    • Composite products, used in tub and shower enclosures, automobile body panels, wind turbine parts and boats.
  • The diversified styrene industry is estimated at $28 billion, with as many as 750,000 related jobs in the United States.
  • The Styrene Information & Research Center (SIRC), a nonprofit founded in 1987, is the principal source for public information and research on styrene. The organization has invested more than $25 million in research on the safety of styrene for consumers and workers.
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Natural styrene was first extracted from the oriental sweetgum tree (also called levant styrax, after which styrene is named). Styrene also occurs in the similarly named, but unrelated, styrax tree. The natural resin can be used as incense or to add a vanilla-like scent, while the oil has a woody aroma.