The recent hysteria about styrene emissions from our company, Mincey Marble, is sadly based on speculation and exaggeration, not science and fact. After nearly 40 years of operation with virtually no complaints, it seems obvious the hype is part of a well-timed strategy to influence our rezoning effort.
What we propose is the replacement of an outdated plant with a modern facility that should be viewed as a positive addition to the Ga. 369 corridor. Our facility will be a state-of-the-art operation designed with special consideration for the environmental impact of both the building and manufacturing process.
But back to the scare issue of styrene. We design and manufacture cast marble products. Styrene is a component of the resin used in our production process. Most of the styrene in the resin chemically changes to a solid product during the curing process and is not styrene any longer. However, some does escape. Filters capture some of it, and the rest is diffused with fans and vented outside our facility, where it dissipates into the air and naturally breaks down within a few hours.
Inside our plant and just outside our doors, you are able to smell an odor from the styrene, not unpleasant to most but noticeable to varying degrees. It’s only human nature to assume if you can smell it, and it comes from a manufacturing plant, it must be bad for you. The facts state otherwise.
Human epidemiology studies totaling more than 55,000 workers have been conducted in styrene-related industries. For some, exposures go back at least 60 years. Collectively, these studies show no increase in deaths due to cancer or other disease. Keep in mind these studies were conducted in the workplace, so the risk to public health outside a facility could hardly be expected.
Mincey has been in business for almost 40 years and there has not been a single case in which one of our workers has experienced health issues related to styrene. (I live a half-mile from work and have been around styrene for my entire 30-year career). If there was any area where you would expect to find health issues related to styrene, wouldn’t it be with workers at our facilities?
Neither the Centers for Disease Control, FDA, OSHA or EPA have classified styrene as a cancer-causing substance.
Finally, the notion from opponents that residents near our plant are cowering inside their homes due to pervasive styrene odor outside their front doors can only be an exaggeration. Our testing equipment has never detected significant amounts of the odor off our property. It is known that styrene’s odor may be detected by some people at very low concentrations but the proven truth is these small concentrations present no harm to anyone.
At Mincey, we understand that not everyone will agree in rezoning matters like ours. Our hope is that they will form their opinions based upon fact, not scare talk. If you would like to learn more, we recommend you visit styrene.org, the official website of the nonprofit Styrene Information & Research Center.
Vice President of Operations, Mincey Marble, Gainesville