Water treatment plants along the Ohio River are monitoring the river for styrene following a spill this (Friday) morning near Chester, West Virginia.
The Ohio River Valley Sanitation Commission is working with the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection to determine how much styrene was spilled into the river. Styrene is primarily used in the manufacture of polystyrene plastics and resins. Short-term exposure may result in mucous membrane, eye irritation, and gastrointestinal effects. Chronic exposure results in effects on the central nervous system.
Several epidemiologic studies suggest there may be an association between styrene exposure and an increased risk of leukemia and lymphoma. However, the USEPA says the evidence is inconclusive.
Styrene is a colorless liquid that has a sweet smell.