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ISIF website styrene-related glossary


See Acrylonitrile-Butadiene-Styrene
Acrylonitrile-Butadiene-Styrene (ABS)
ABS is a tough, heat-resistant and impact-resistant thermoplastic, the acrylonitrile providing heat resistance, and the styrene units giving rigidity. It is widely used for appliance and telephone housings, luggage, sporting helmets, pipe fittings and automotive parts. top
In many plastic products, the polymer is only one constituent. In order to arrive at a set of properties appropriate to the product, the polymer is almost always combined with other ingredients, or additives, which are mixed in during processing and fabrication. Among these additives are impact modifiers, colorants, reinforcements, and stabilisers. top
Chemical element
Any substance that cannot be decomposed into simpler substances by ordinary chemical processes. Elements are the fundamental materials of which all matter is composed. They can combine with one another to form a wide variety of more complex substances called compounds. top
Chemical reaction
A chemical process in which substances are changed into different substances. Chemical reactions are manifested by the disappearance of properties characteristic of the starting materials and the appearance of new properties that distinguish the products. Examples of chemical reactions include burning of wood, fermentation of crops to make alcohol, tarnishing of silver, digestion of food and the synthesis of polystyrene plastics. top
A compound (or molecule) is a combination of two or more chemical elements (atoms) held together by chemical bonds. top
See Expanded polystyrene. top
Expanded polystyrene (EPS)
Expanded polystyrene, or EPS, is a closed-cell, thermal plastic material supplied to molders in the form of a polystyrene bead. The beads, which contain a blowing agent, are processed and molded into low-density foam articles, such as protective packaging, foam insulation and building and construction. top

Exposure assessment
An exposure assessment attempts to answer the following questions for a particular substance or chemical:

  • Who or what is exposed (e.g. people, aquatic ecosystems?)
  • How does the exposure occur?
  • How much exposure occurs?
  • How often and for how long does exposure occur, that is, what is its frequency and duration? top
Extruded polystyrene (XPS)
Extruded polystyene, or XPS, is a closed-cell, thermal plastic material manufactured by a variety of extrusion processes (single screw, twin screw). Polystyrene foam board and extruded foam sheet have properties which make it an excellent choice for thermal insulation, sheathing, roofing and building and construction application. top
The hazard associated with a chemical is its intrinsic ability to cause an adverse effect. It should be compared to risk, which is the chance that such effects will occur. For example, whilst a chemical may have hazardous properties, provided it is handled safely under contained conditions, any risk to human health or the environment is extremely low. top
An organic compound that consists exclusively of the elements carbon and hydrogen. Generally, the term hydrocarbon is used for the chemicals that are derived from natural gas, oil and coal. top
Latex (pl. latices)
Latex is a general term often used to refer to both natural latex and synthetic latex, even though these products have significantly different chemical and biological properties. Natural latex is a milky usually white fluid that is produced by cells of various seed plants and is a well-known source of rubber. Many people are allergic to natural latex which is caused by sensitivities to the over 200 naturally occurring proteins that can be found in the natural product. top
Chemical combination of two or more atoms of the same chemical element (such as O2 - which is Oxygen) or different chemical elements (such as H2O - which is water). top
A molecule that can combine with others to form a Polymer top
Occupational exposure
The occupational exposure is a standard term that concerns adult workers in good health, with a possible exposure of 8 hours per day, 5 days a week, 11 months per year. See exposure. top
See Unsaturated polyester resins top
An organic compound that has been derived from petroleum or natural gas. There are almost 200 chemicals that can be so described and they include many simple hydrocarbons (e.g. methane, ethane), aromatic hydrocarbons (e.g. benzene, styrene), naphthenes and several of their derivatives. top
Any of numerous synthetic materials that consist of giant molecules called polymers, with extremely long chains of repeating units derived from short molecules. Plastics can be formed into products by moulding or otherwise shaping. The two major divisions of plastics are the thermosetting resins and thermoplastic resins. Raw materials for plastics include coal and cellulose, but by far the chief source is petroleum. Because of their easy manipulation, economical manufacture, low specific gravity, and resistance to corrosion, plastics have replaced metal, wood, glass, and other materials in many applications. An immense array of plastic industrial and consumer goods is available. top
When identical individual molecules (monomers) come together and link up in a chain-like fashion they form a polymer. The chemical reaction that forms a polymer is called polymerisation. There are natural polymers (often referred to as biopolymers), such as cellulose, certain rubbers and DNA, and synthetic polymers, such as polystyrene and fibreglass (see uPES). See also plastics and resins. top
A solid plastic made from polymerised styrene and used in a wide variety of everyday applications, from coffee cups through to CD jewel boxes. top
Product Stewardship
Product Stewardship is the responsible and ethical management of the health, safety and environmental aspects of a product throughout its total life cycle. Product Stewardship is Responsible Care applied to products. top
Any natural or synthetic organic compound consisting of a non-crystalline or viscous liquid substance. Natural resins are organic substances that are transparent or translucent, formed in plant secretions. Synthetic resins comprise a large class of synthetic products that have some of the physical properties of natural resins but are different chemically. Most synthetic resins are polymers. The term resin dates from the early years of the plastics industry; it originally referred to naturally occurring amorphous solids such as shellac and rosin. See also plastics. top
Responsible Care
Responsible Care is the chemical industry's commitment to continuous improvement in all aspects of health, safety and environment performance and to openness in communication about its activities and achievements. Find out more about Responsible Care by Visiting the CEFIC or ACC website. top
Risk should be clearly distinguished from "hazard". Risk is the chance that a given hazardous effect will occur. The use of fire by humans is an interesting example of optimising the balance between hazard and risk, as fire, being extremely hazardous, must be used under carefully controlled conditions to keep risks to a minimum. top
Risk Assessment
Substances on European priority lists must undergo an in-depth risk assessment covering the risks posed by the priority chemical to man (covering workers, consumers and man exposed via the environment) and the environment (covering the terrestrial, aquatic and atmospheric eco-systems and accumulation through the food chain). This risk assessment follows the framework set out in European Commission Regulation (EC) 1488/94 and implemented in the detailed Technical Guidance Documents (TGD) on Risk Assessment for New and Existing Substances. The first draft of the risk assessment reports are written by the Member States which act as "rapporteurs". The Commission mediates the meetings, which attempt to reach consensus on the conclusions of the risk assessments. top
Synthetic rubber, as opposed to natural rubber (obtained from the exudations of certain tropical trees), is derived from petroleum and natural gas. Because of its elasticity, resilience, and toughness, rubber is the basic constituent of the tires used in automotive vehicles, aircraft, and bicycles. The same properties make it useful for machine belting and hoses of all kinds. Rubber is also used in electrical insulation, and because it is waterproof, it is a favoured material for shoe soles. top
See Styrene-Acrylonitrile top
See Styrene-butadiene latex top
See Styrene-Butadiene Rubber top
F.A.Q: What is styrene? top
Styrene-acrylonitrile (SAN)
SAN is a transparent, rigid styrenic plastic offering high chemical resistance, used mainly in the automotive, electrical and electronics industry, as well as in household applications and building products. Uses and Benefits top
Styrene-butadiene latex (SBL)
Styrene-butadiene latex (SBL) is a water-based polymer produced by emulsion polymerisation from styrene and butadiene. Major uses of Styrene-butadiene latex include carpet backing and paper coating.top
Styrene-butadiene rubber (SBR)
Styrene-butadiene rubber is a high molecular weight polymer. Because of its excellent abrasion resistance, Styrene-butadiene rubber is widely used in automobile and lorry (truck) tyres (tires), belting, flooring, wire and cable insulation, footwear, and as a paper coating.top
The word "substance" is used to mean chemical elements and their compounds in the natural state or obtained by any production process, including any additive necessary to preserve the stability of the product. top
Sustainable development
Humanity's ability "to make development sustainable, i.e. to ensure that it meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs". The European chemical industry supports this position, as defined by the World Commission on Environment and Development established by the United Nations. top
The production of a substance by the union of chemical elements, groups, or simpler compounds, or by the degradation of a complex compound. top
Synthetic latex
Synthetic latex is a water emulsion of a synthetic rubber or plastic obtained by polymerisation and used especially in coatings (as paint) and adhesives. Synthetic latex does not contain the proteins found in natural latex and therefore is not associated with allergic reactions.
There are various synthetic latex products produced from styrene;
these compounds serve as non-allergenic alternatives to the natural latex.
A common synthetic is Styrene-butadiene latex, which is used in the backing of the majority of carpets produced today.top
Thermosets are a type of plastic that is the reaction product of two or more chemical compounds. While reacting and while still in a liquid shape thermoset plastics are moulded to form a wide variety of parts. Once the reaction is complete, thermoset plastics form durable solid articles. Unsaturated polyester resins that are used to make glass reinforced plastics are an example of a thermoset plastic. top
A plastic which is solid when cold, but which may flow and be re-formed multiple times with the application of heat. Some plastics are dissolved in solvents such as water (a latex) to aid their application. top
Unsaturated polyester resins (UPR, USPE or PES)
Unsaturated polyester resins are durable, resinous polymers used over a broad spread of industries, mainly the construction, boat building, automotive and electrical industries. In most applications they are reinforced with small glass fibres - hence these plastics are commonly referred to as GRP or Glass Reinforced Plastics. top
See Unsaturated polyester resins top
See Unsaturated polyester resins top
See Extruded polystyrene. top

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