October 15, 2010

BPA Declared Toxic By Canadian Agency

Bisphenol-A (BPA) -- a chemical used in baby bottles and other plastics -- has been declared a toxic chemical by the Canadian government, which has called for a ban on the industrial chemical.

Canada added the compound to a list of substances that it deemed potentially hazardous to health or the environment in a notice published in the Canada Gazette on Wednesday.

"The risk assessment of BPA put together by our federal government is very strong in terms of its conclusions, so I think it's a foregone conclusion that it will drive further action rather quickly," said Rick Smith, executive director of Environmental Defense, which campaigned to ban BPA.

BPA, which has been mass produced for decades, is widely used to line food and beverage containers, and a recent government report said it was present in the bodies of more than 90 percent of Canadians.

"We are literally marinating in it on a minute-by-minute basis," Smith told Reuters.

The major concern is on BPA's potential effects as an endocrine disruptor, which can imitate or interfere with the body's natural hormones and could potentially damage development, especially in children.

Canada's health minister said their research indicates that BPA may be harmful to both humans and the environment.

Smith said Canada has been a world leader in the crackdown on BPA. It strived to take measures to control use of the chemical in 2008, and in March this year banned the use of BPA in plastic baby bottles.

Canada could also limit BPA emissions by factories into the environment and work with industry to reduce exposure through the lining of canned goods.

But other research points to evidence which has been inconclusive on the toxicity to humans, leading regulators in some countries to be more lenient on manufacturers.

The American Chemistry Council (ACC) said declaring BPA toxic contradicts research by Canada's own health department that showed BPA does not accumulate in the body.

"Just days after the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) once again confirmed that BPA is safe for use in food-contact items, Environment Canada's announcement is contrary to the weight of worldwide scientific evidence, unwarranted and will unnecessarily confuse and alarm the public," said Steven G. Hentges of the AAC's Polycarbonate/BPA Global Group.

Currently it is unclear what compound manufacturers could use to replace bisphenol-A.


On the Net: