Friday, October 15, 2010

Canada Declares Bisphenol A (BPA) Toxic...Will the US Follow Suit?

The Canadian government has formally labeled Bisphenol A, commonly called BPA, as "toxic," and added it to Schedule I of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act of 1999.  They now will propose mechanisms to protect human health and the environment from the risks of BPA exposure.  They have already banned the use of polycarbonate baby bottles that contain BPA.   The assessment also offers additional recommedations for removing or restricting BPA use in food contact materials and cosmetics, as well as provisions for recycling and limiting discharges in industrial effluents. Ironically, this announcement comes only days after the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) reaffirmed its belief that BPA is safe for use in food-contact items.

 More information can be found on the assessment web page.

The question now turns to what will happen in the United States.  The USEPA had already issued an "action plan" for BPA under their current TSCA authority.  In that plan the EPA noted that it was considering a 5(b)(4) rulemaking to "identify BPA on the Concern List as a substance that may present an unreasonable risk of injury to the environment on the basis of its potential for long-term adverse effects on growth, reproduction and development in aquatic species at concentrations similar to those found in the environment."  They also were considering initiating a section 4 rulemaking to obtain more data and work on a collaboration with industry to find alternatives under EPA's "Design for the Environment" program.

Interestingly, EPA was not initiating any action based on concerns for human health, as they felt that particular area was too uncertain to take action at that time.  It seems Canada has disagreed.

So it remains to be seen whether the Canadian action will spawn similar action in the US.  Whether or not this happens it seems clear that state and local jurisdictions are not waiting for EPA and/or FDA; they are initiating their own restrictions and bans.

A PDF of the EPA action plan can be found here.

No comments: