Fact sheet: Styrene

From: Public Services and Procurement Canada

Discover a list of a contaminant's important chemical properties, how it will react in the environment, main sources of contamination related, and a brief overview of health and safety issues.

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General information

CAS number

100-42-5

Molecular formula

C8H8

Formula weight

104.2 g/mol

Family

Monocyclic aromatic hdrocarbons (MAH)

Properties (at room temperature where applicable)

Compound properties list
ParameterValueComment
Melting/boiling point -33 0C / 145 0CLiquid
Relative density0.91Floats on water
Vapour pressure6 mm HgModerately volatile
Vapour density3.6Denser than air
Solubility in water150 mg/LLow solubility
Henry's law constant4 x 10-3 atm·m3/molRapid volatilization when dissolved
log Koc (Depending on soil or sediment characteristics)3.5 - 5.0*Strong adsorption to organic matter

Environmental behaviour

At 20 0C, styrene is a liquid that floats on water and is moderately volatile. Characterized by its low solubility, it will volatilize rapidly once dissolved and strongly adsorbs to organic matter. During a spill, this compound will partially evaporate but the majority of the product will enter into the soil or drain into a waterway. Liquid styrene can accumulate along the capillary fringe (groundwater) or form a film on the water surface which will promote its solubilization and volatilization. The adsorbed styrene in the vadose and saturated zones will take a long time to disappear, slowly liberating contamination in primarily in the gaseous, or the dissolved state. The resulting plumes (gaseous or dissolved) will be relatively limited in size.

Health and safety

Styrene should be handled with care as it is flammable and toxic.

Principal resources

Styrene is an aromatic hydrocarbon produced industrially in large quantities, principally from ethylbenzene. Styrene is primarily used in the production of polystyrene plastics and resins for insulation or in the fabrication of fiberglass boats. It is also used in the production of copolymers such as styrene-acrylonitrile (SAN) and acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS) which are used in manufacturing pipes, automotive components and plastic drinking glasses; styrene-butadiene rubber (SBR) used in manufacturing car tires, hoses for industrial purposes and shoes; or combined with unsaturated polyester resins used to reinforce fiberglass materials.

Styrene is an important industrial chemical in terms of volume and release into the environment can occur during its manufacturing, storage, transportation and processing. Typical sources of industrial styrene releases are those facilities producing styrene, polystyrene, other plastics, synthetic rubber and resins. Soil and sediments may become contaminated with styrene due to chemical spills, landfill disposal of styrene-containing wastes or the discharge of styrene-contaminated water.

References

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). 2007. Toxicological Profile for Styrene. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Georgia, USA. (Viewed December 2013).

Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment. 1999. Canadian Water Quality Guidelines for the Protection of Aquatic Life: Styrene. In: Canadian Environmental Quality Guidelines. Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment, Manitoba, Canada. (Viewed March 2010)

Montgomery, John H. 2007. Groundwater Chemicals, Desk Reference, Fourth Edition, CRC Press, Taylor and Francis Group, Florida, USA.

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