Styrene is a clear, colorless liquid with a sweet, aromatic odor. Styrene has a distinctive smell and can be detected by the human nose at low concentrations. It is easily stored and transported, although a few precautions should be taken to prevent polymerization. Styrene should not be stored at high temperatures, and an inhibitor is normally added to prevent polymerization. Styrene is commercially produced but also occurs naturally in the environment and is present in small concentrations in many commonly consumed food and beverages, such as coffee, strawberries, and cinnamon.

Practically all commercially produced styrene comes from manufacturing processes that start with benzene and ethylene.

Styrene is classified as “an easy chemical” in the marine shipping market. The product is one of the highest-volume commodity chemicals traded, with about 21% of global annual production traded internationally based on 2022 data.


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